Monday, October 9, 2017

Tracking Koike's ambition 8

Tracking Koike's ambition, day 8, 8 October 2017

Another day, another TV program. Following yesterday's internet debate, party leaders this morning presented themselves on NHK's regular Sunday morning political show, 'Leaders' Debate'. Again, Koike was forced to defend her leadership positions, her ability to handle campaigning and City Hall (no-one seems to ask the PM how he handles campaigning and running the country...).

Koike defending her position, again
But an interesting sign of the pressure already? PM Abe's minders will no longer announce where and when he will be campaigning because of the poor reception he has been receiving as he tries to speak to crowds outside train stations. The 'gaito enzetsu' (街頭演説) is a staple of Japanese elections, where leaders and candidates meet with the voters out on the street, outside train stations or some of the larger shopping centres. It is part street theatre, and nearly always highly scripted but over the years I have been observing these events, they are a way to engage directly with the public. These events are different from the scripted campaign launches in large convention centres we might see in Australia, for example. In Japan, the enzetsu are there, on the street, for the attention of passers-by, not the party elite, the party-selected, the party faithful. 

PM Abe lasted just a year in office in 2007, resigning citing ill-health. It will be interesting to see if his health withstands the pressure of the next few weeks.

And in this era of election by opinion polls, we will be inundated by all sorts of polls over the next two weeks (yes, just two weeks). One released over night show the LDP out in the lead among those who nominate a party; an almost equal number remain uncommitted, undecided or uninterested. On the other hand, just two points separate Kibo, Constitutional Dems and the Communists, 14.7, 13.5 and 12.7 respectively.  (サンデイー毎日). This is going to make for interesting jockeying for position...something to watch.