On Monday evening, the video-sharing service Nico Nico streamed a live debate for candidates of the Tokyo gubernatorial election. While all 56 candidates were invited to appear and talk about their vision for the capital, it was largely only those with no chance of winning that turned up. Hosted by author and journalist Michiyoshi Hatakeyama, the debate gave wacky candidates such as Yusuke Kawai, dressed as the Joker, and Ken Komatsu, the leader of the Golf Party, the opportunity to speak to a wider audience as the mainstream media refuses to cover them.  

Anger at the Joker’s ‘Sexy Posters’ 

Kawai, who caused controversy last week by putting up posters of a near-naked lady, leading to a warning from the police, arrived late for the event. A candidate known as AI Mayor wasn’t too pleased to see him. “He’s not the kind of person who should be here,” said AI Mayor. “He was warned by the police the day before yesterday. While he is putting up sexy posters, we’re doing our job seriously, and we don’t want to be lumped together with that.” Kawai countered by saying that he had not been arrested. Takashi Tachibana, leader of the NHK Party, also chimed in saying, “If you don’t like it, go home.”  

Hatakeyama tried to calm the situation. “You’re all candidates. It is the voters who decide who is suitable or not,” he said. Independent candidate Akane Himasora had already seen enough. The YouTuber, who had been participating online, departed after saying, “There is no one here to debate with, so I am leaving now.” Another person who left early was Midori Yokoyama, a self-proclaimed internet comedian representing the NHK Party. “The number of people viewing this has dropped, so I’m leaving,” was his reason. There are 19 candidates from the NHK Party, who have all been asked to “hijack” campaign boards with their posters. The gubernatorial race has been heavily criticized for making a mockery of the electoral process. 

A Serious Gubernatorial Debate Without Wacky Candidates  

A far more serious debate took place at the same time between the four leading candidates in the election. Yuriko Koike, Renho Saito, Shinji Ishimaru and Toshio Tamogami discussed child-rearing support, administrative reform and other issues at the Junior Chamber International Tokyo. 

In the YouTube video above, Jeffrey J. Hall discusses why the Tokyo gubernatorial election has so many wacky candidates.

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