Can Politicians Change?

Let’s look back to around four years ago. I was walking my normal route to the train station. As I neared the station I saw a local politician handing out flyers.

Let me stop and clear something up. Because of election laws and traditions here in Japan, of which I will not pretend to be an expert, the most common forms of getting out the vote are filtering, and noise. Noise often comes in the forms of standing on the corner with a bullhorn or driving around in a truck with speakers. It is worse than it sounds.

Anyway, here was a politician giving away information of why he was worth a vote and he was offering them to all who went by. I was curious, and thought I’d take a look.

Let’s pause again. Even though I have lived in Japan since graduating university, I am not a citizen here. Quick reason is that Japan does not allow dual citizenship. Otherwise, I’d probably sign up. Since I am not a citizen, I can’t vote, but I’d rather be informed that not.

Back to the story. I’m getting closer to the guy. He’s giving flyers to everyone who shows interest. I hold my hand out. He pulls the flyer away. I walk past. I’m confused.

I take a moment.

I go back to the politician and ask for a flyer. He says no.

This is where my memory does get fuzzy. I know I ask why he wouldn’t give me one. I remember he was rude. It escalates and I remember calling him a racist for judging people by skin and determining they are even worth a flyer.

I remember him exasperated and asking me what I wanted. I think I said that at first I just wanted a paper, but that my wants had changed to wanting a stupid, racist politician to lose.

I know. I’m charming.

Why am I writing any of this? Because recently I was heading to the station. In front of it was the same politician handing out flowers. When he saw I wasn’t Japanese, he put the flyers by his side. I passed by and watched as he offered all others a flyer. They all at least passed as Japanese.

I took a picture and went to my train.

Yeah. None of this is that big a deal. I doubt it even really qualifies as racism. But it also means a multi term politician representing one of the most diverse wards in the country doesn’t want to show the common curtesy of allowing a foreign face take a piece of paper that he is actively trying to give away.

And after a cursory web search, it seems this guy makes his actual beliefs hard to find online, but seems fond of picking twitter fights of those pushing for more daycare, and more stroller protections on trains.

I also know that as I write this I decided against using this politician’s name. He seems like a jerk, and jerk politicians tend to have jerk followers and too many details feels like inviting risk.

But sometimes I just need to tell a story. Even if it is a vague and slight one.

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