chapter  9
19 Pages

The depersonalized is politically correct: Japanese electioneering practices in mid-life crisis kaori tsurumoto

It is the aim of this chapter to seek the whereabouts of ‘popular culture’ in the Japanese House of Councilors elections held on 11th of July, 2004. It will employ three distinct conceptions of ‘popular culture’. First, in analyzing a Japanese election drama series called Atarashii kaze (Fresh Breeze), which was aired in the period immediately prior to the actual election taking place, ‘popular culture’ is understood as a concoction of textual encoding/ decoding and of the context within which the social meaning of the drama was forged, i.e., as cultural and social formation. Second, it engages with a notion of ‘popular culture’ as everyday life practices. During the election period, I carried out fieldwork research by literally walking and sitting in the downtown area where campaigning was most concentrated. I will recount my subjective experience of having occupied that urban space as an instance of ‘popular culture’. Finally, the chapter employs a notion of ‘popular culture’ which cleaves to the ‘media’ as its primary base. Here, my intention is not to problematize the presumption that the media is ‘popular culture’, but to simply discuss what was or was not represented in television news coverage of the political campaign, and how. Deploying the analysis of the three ‘popular culture’ sites, one can suggest that Japanese electioneering practices manifest in the realm of ‘popular culture’ are, by and large, de-personalized, and the Public Office Election Law (POEL) is largely responsible for this state of affairs.