Some of you might have heard, but there's going to be an election next week! Specifically, an election to select the 480 members that will make up the 45th Japanese House of Representatives, Japan's Lower House. 300 out of the 480 members will be elected first-past-the-post out of single-seat constituencies (think ridings in Canadian politics), while the remaining 180 members will be elected by proportional representation (through the D'Hondt method) in 11 block districts. That means every Japanese elector will select an individual representative out of their single-seat constituencies, and a party they would like to see represented in their block district. Proportional representative lists are published in advance by each party, and it is possible to run in a single-seat constituency, and be listed on a party's PR-list at the same time. This means it is possible for a candidate to lose in their single-seat constituency, and still get elected. In order for this to happen their party must garner enough votes to reach the candidate's spot on the PR-list, AND the candidate must have garnered at least 10% of the vote in their single-seat constituency race.
ANYWAY, you'll be able to get all that information and more in English through Wikipedia, or one of the fine Japan blogs I recommended recently
. What you might NOT be able to get is a break down of the various candidates running in Tokyo's 19th District, the district in which I currently reside. As an exercise in political research, translation, and summery, I will be profiling the 5 candidates that will be running out of Tokyo's 19th District, in a feature I like to call "Reppin' the Tokyo 1-9!!!"
Part 1 of this series, which I have given the Colbertian subtitle "Better Know a District
," will be an overview of the district as a whole, and subsequent parts will be an in depth look at each candidate. So... On with the show!!!Reppin' the Tokyo 1-9!!! Part 1: Better Know a District
Tokyo's 19th District, THE FIGHTIN' 19, is composed of the cities of Nishi-Tokyo (formed by the merger of Tanashi and Yaho in 2001), Kodaira, Kokubunji, and Kunitachi. If you looked in a map of Tokyo the 19th district would cover the geographic centre of the capital. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, as of September 2008, the 19th district was home to just over 460,000 voters. Since the electoral reforms by Prime Minister Hosokawa in 1994 that created the 19th district in the first place, the district has seen four Lower House elections. Only the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the Democratic Party (DPJ), and the Communist Party (JCP) have fielded a candidate in each election. The most recent election in 2005 only featured candidates of the aforementioned parties. The DPJ's Yoshinori Suematsu had won the district 3 times, prior to his narrow defeat to the LDP's Yohei Matsumoto, one of the "Koizumi children" in the 2005 "Postal Reform" election. The LDP has steadily increased its vote count in each election, gaining a mere 47,675 votes in 1996, to gaining 138,159 votes in the 2005 election. The DPJ's Suematsu's vote count continued to increase since his first election, before taking a bit of a hit in the 2005 election. The JCP's vote total shrunk to 27,811, down from a high of 38,040 in 2000. A cursory glance of the past results seem to give the impression that the 19th is a relatively liberal/reform-oriented district, but let's look at the district's constituant cities and results from local elections to see if we can gain some more insights.Nishi-Tokyo (西東京)
(lit: West Tokyo) is the most populous city within the 19th district with a population of 194,851 (obviously not all voters). As previously mentioned, Nishi-Tokyo was created in 2001 in a merger between Tanashi and Yaho, which has the distinction of being the first municipal merger of the 21st Century in Japan. Nishi-Tokyo forms the eastern portion of the district, making it the closest to the population centre of Tokyo. Looking through Nishi-Tokyo's profile, nothing stands out as being particularly interesting/notable. If I had to pick something it would be that Citizen Holdings Co.
(the watchmakers) have their headquarters in Nishi-Tokyo. Perhaps it is this mundanity that lead to Nobita-kun's house being portrayed
as being in Tanashi in the 1990's Doraemon anime. If it's a Tokyo Tower-style landmark you're looking for, look no further than Skytower Nishi-Tokyo
, a 195 meter tall multi-use broadcast antennae. Some famous people you may know who hail from Nishi-Tokyo include, actress Aoi Miyazaki
, former-Major League baseball player Tadahito Iguchi
, and rock singer DIAMOND✡YUKAI
. In the Tokyo prefectural election
, held last month, the people of Nishi-Tokyo voted overwhelmingly for the DPJ candidate whose margin over the LDP candidate who came in second was around 25%. Although both got elected as Nishi-Tokyo sends 2 candidates to the Metropolitan Assembly. The remaining candidate was a JCP newcomer that managed around 16% of the vote. More locally, the mayor of Nishi-Tokyo is backed by the DPJ, and leftist parties seem to control a comfortable amount of seats in the city councilKodaira (小平)
is the second most populous city in the district with a total population of 186,944. It occupies the geographic centre of the district sandwiched between Nishi-Tokyo and Kokubunji. Kodaira is apparently famous for it's blueberries, and holds a blueberry festival in early August complete with a weird mascot namedd Bluebe. Debaters may be familiar with Tsuda College
, a private women's university in Kodaira, that regularly sends competitors to the WUDC. Aside from that, the only other fixture I felt was interesting enough to include, if only for the name, was the GAS MUSEUM. Famous people that hail from this bedroom town include actor Shun Oguri
, voice actor Koji Tsujitani
, and musician Masatoshi Mashima
. Like in Nishi-Tokyo, Kodaira sent both a DPJ and LDP members to the Metropolitan assembly last month. Although the margin of victory for the DPJ member was much closer at "only" 19%, this magin represents a significant growth compared to the previous election where the DPJ candidate and the LDP candidate garnered an almost equal number of votes. Locally the story is a bit more interesting, with a near perfect split of the city council seats between the LDP-lead right-centre coalition and a leftist coalition composed of the DPJ, JCP, Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the Tokyo Seikatsusha Network
. The mayor, supported by the latter coalition, defeated the incumbent, supported by the former coalition, in 2005. Kokubunji (国分寺)
boasts a population of 120,585, and together with Kunitachi forms the western end of the district. Kokubunji is so-named for the temple built in the area as part of Emperor Shomu
's Provincial temple system. The remains of the temple and its grounds are a designated historic site. Aside from that, anime fans may be interested to know that Kokubunji is home of Production I.G
, the animation studio responsible for works like Evangelion
, Ghost in the Shell
, and one of my all time favorites, Patlabor
. Aside from those two things, Kokubunji seems to be another typical bedroom town. The list of famous people for Kokubunji is surprisingly short but it includes recently deceased musician Kiyoshiro Imawano
, Reo Tsuchiya and Yoshiyuki Kato from the acapella group RAG FAIR
, and violinist Sayaka Shoji
. Since Kokubunji shares an electoral district with Kunitachi for the Tokyo prefectural election, I'll start with Kokubunji's local political scene. Kokubunji's city council is composed overwhelmingly of left leaning non-LDP/Komeito-types (two-thirds to be exact). As for the Tokyo prefectural election, in a fairly close three-way race (with a JCP candidate coming a distant fourth), the DPJ and the Seikatsusha Network candidate (also supported by the DPJ) won seats over the LDP candidate. Which is a big improvement for the DPJ since they did not run any candidates in the district in the last election. I do not have any precinct-by-precinct results to analyze, so I have no idea how much of the margin was contributed by Kokubunji, but given the city's relative size compared to Kunitachi and the make-up of the city council, I think it's fair to infer that Kokubunji is a left-leaning city.
Finally we come to Kunitachi (国立)
the city in which I currently reside. It is the smallest of the 19th district's cities with a population of 73,588. But it is arguably the most interesting city not only in the district but in the entire country. Kunitachi gets it's name for the first character of it's neighboring cities Kokubunji (国
分寺) and Tachikawa (立
川). The characters 国立 also can be read as Kokuritsu, or national, which sometimes causes confusion. For example the 国立音楽大学 is not the National College of Music, but the Kunitachi College of Music. However, Kunitachi is
home to a national university, the not-confusingly-named Hitotsubashi University
. Hitotsubashi is the only national university that specializes exclusively in the liberal arts. In part because of the presence of the university, a large portion of Kunitachi was designated as a special educational region in 1952. The designation, the first for Tokyo, means Kunitachi DOES NOT have any pachinko parlours, sex-shops, or big hotels (i.e. things that can corrupt public morals). The designation came about as part of a movement of citizens and students who came together to combat the negative influence of businesses that were catering to American soldiers stationed at Tachikawa military base
during the Korean War. Kunitachi also has the distinction of being only one of two cities to not be connected to the JUKI-NET system
(the other being Yamatsuri in Fukushima). Things like this give Kunitachi a disproportionate amount of attention considering its size. Not many famous people hail from Kunitachi like ballerina Miyako Yoshida
, and disgraced Johnny's talent Akira Akasaka
but many famous people choose to make their home in Kunitachi like actor Tomokazu Miura
, and potter and designated living treasure Koheiji Miura
(no relation). I already covered the Tokyo prefectural election results in the Kokubunji section, but Kunitachi is considered an outlier in its local election scene as well. Kunitachi is one of the few local governments in Japan that is lead by the JCP. While the JCP does not hold a majority of city council seats by any means, the JCP does lead the government coalition on the Kunitachi council.
So there you have it! Tokyo's 19th district... A collection of bedroom communities that leans a bit left. Next time I start looking at individual candidates.