I know. You are up to your eyeballs with election ads on TV, radio, social media and mailers. We are growing weary of the polarizing rhetoric. The last thing you want to read about it is a blog post about the upcoming election. I hear you. I also, can’t wait for election season to come to an end so I don’t have to hear another derisive word about the 2 sides of the issue. Yes, I’m sure we feel the same way about the vote on November 1st to determine weather Osaka will remain a city with 24 wards, or be designated as a “metropolis” like Tokyo with 4 districts. Oh, did you think I was talking about the U.S. Presidential election? I’ll get to that later in my post.
Last year around this time, I remember seeing posters of candidates running for office all around Osaka. There were designated neighborhood billboards with equally sized spaces for each candidate’s single poster. I recall the billboards went up and and came down within a short period of time. According to national election laws, candidates can campaign for only 12 days. Because of this (or thanks to this), we are barraged with fliers, ads, round-the-clock loudspeakers urging you to vote for “candidate A” for less than 2 weeks. Once polling day is done (always on a Sunday in Japan so that more people can vote) so are the ads, fliers and you can finally converse without having to talk over the constant loudspeaker noise. Apparently there are no laws about leaving candidate’s posters affixed to your home as in the case of the house across from the school. Their poster has been up the entire time we’ve lived here: 25 months and counting!
Since this year’s vote is a referendum about the fate of Osaka City, the ads started in early October. Here are a few snapshots of the campaign ads:
The connection between voting and the cheetah? I am also just as confused. But it is eye catching and kind of cute, isn’t it? The first time the ad popped up on my social media, it was surprising. And soon after, the adorable mini cars appeared on the roads, driving around to remind people to vote The cars announce, “November 1st is the special election–let’s go out and vote” and then a catchy tune plays with the lyrics: election, election, cast your vote; election, election time is here. The community bulletin board has specific information about absentee ballots, etc. And, of course, a little sidebar stating that masks are necessary at polling stations and a reminder about social distancing for in-person voting. I have to say, I’ll miss seeing that cheetah after November 1st.
The U.S. Presidential Election has surprisingly made its way over here too. We got an informational flier in the mail about the 2 candidates. And back in August, there was a 15 minute news piece dedicated to the 2 candidates and where they stand on issues and polling stats. There was a mention of American politics on news of the day readerboard in Osaka’s “Times Square” with the headline below.
I can understand and appreciate world news segments being broadcast here. But the flier we got in the mail highlighted each candidate’s stance on China and drew conclusions about what that would mean for Japan. Interesting perspective, to say the least.
I sent in my absentee ballot earlier this month and it feels good to know that I got my say in who I believe should lead the U.S. Just a few more days and the attack ads, constant political headlines over the airwaves and news channels will cease and we’ll find out if Osaka will remain a city or not. One thing is for sure: I will definitely miss seeing that cute cheetah car coming down the street.