Many of the readers of my blog are well informed, so I’m certain many of you already know that Tokyo Governor Ishihara has been re-elected to a 4th term.
Much has been made over Mr. Ishihara’s decisive victory. He gathered near 1 million more votes than Higashikokubaru, who came in 2nd and pulled ahead by 16 points at 43.9 versus Higashikokubaru’s 26.5 points.
But an interesting article here points out something few noticed.
When Mr. Ishihara was first elected to office, he won only 30.5% of the vote. In 2003, he won by an astonishing 70.2%. But then in 2007, his only got 51.1%, a respectable number even still. But in 2011, he won at 43.4%. Clearly, Mr. Ishihara’s popularity is not increasing, but going down instead.
But why didn’t it go down enough for his opposition to win?
Mr. Ishihara really didn’t endear himself by saying some nasty things to many groups of people this last year. His policies regarding the Tsukiji fish market and the troubled ShinGinko Tokyo is still very unpopular among many voters. This doesn’t include any of the talk regarding gays and manga, among other issues.
In fact, the Governor appears to have been dead set at not running, not because he felt he couldn’t win, but because he grew tired of being governor and worried that his health may not be good enough to carry him through another 4 year term.
Mr. Ishihara was working closely with former Kanagawa Prefecture Governor, Mr. Shigefumi Matsuzawa to be his successor, but due to Mr. Matsuzawa’s inability to energize a strong election campaign and difficulty with working with Mr. Ishihara’s Tokyo area LDP and NKP leadership, the relationship fell apart, thus leading to Mr. Ishihara to re-enter into the race.
There are strong indication that Mr. Matsuzawa will be invited into Mr. Ishihara’s team at Tokyo. Mr. Matsuzawa’s position on censorship of popular culture and attitudes regarding foreigners overlaps considerably with Mr. Ishihara, so they will be good match. Just google his name in English and you’ll find juicy stuff in no time.
Had there been a strong contender against Mr. Ishihara, the chances for Mr. Ishihara’s victory might not have been so secure. After all, if you add up the numbers, Higashikokubaru at 2nd place and Watanabe at 3rd place combined won more votes than Ishihara.
So what happened?
Well, this article on the Japan Times helps to explain a lot of things.
Quite simply said, the March 11th Earthquake and its aftermath dominated the mass media so much that it was virtually impossible for the candidates to get their message out. In any crisis situation, the incumbent is in a very powerful position, since they can get news coverage by simply by acting like a governor or the head of any executive body.
What made things worse was that Higashikokubaru and Watanabe end up splitting the opposition vote. Had one or the other stayed out of the race, things might have looked a lot more differently.
Will Mr. Ishihara’s re-election mean censorship of manga and anime will increase? Many would imagine that would be the case, but things are not so straightforward. Mr. Ishihara has claimed over and over that he is simply calling for better rating and not outright censorship. Those words could come in very handy in the future.
PS: Yes, I am well aware of the news regarding the talk of self-censorship of the manga industry. I am gathering notes on that so I can talk about it more thoroughly.