So we kick off the profiles section of this feature by taking a closer look at the incumbent, the LDP's Yohei Matsumoto. Matsumoto just finished his first term as a Lower House member, having been elected out of this district in 2005. Back Story
According to Matsumoto's own literature, which tells Matsumoto's life story in comic form, he was born in 1972. He ran track in middle and high schools. He studied economics at Keio University where he continued running track. After university, he joined Sanwa Bank (now The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ) where he awoke to the importance of politics. In 2003, he quit the company to run for the Lower House, he lost that race but was successful in his second try in 2005. You can find a copy of the comic below.
But you didn't come here for the short summary, did you? Let me fill in the blanks that couldn't be depicted in a 6 panel comic. Matsumoto was born in Setagaya-ward on August 31, 1973, which would make Election Day the day before his birthday. I wonder if he'll get what he wants for his birthday. He was born into a typical salaryman's family, some may say he was born poor. (The words of his supporter, not mine.) He ran track, specifically the 400m, starting in middle school, and continued into university. He participated in the National Inter-High School competition, the Junior Olympics, and inter-college meets. In 1996 he graduated from Keio University's faculty of economics, where he specialized in economic policy. He joined the Sanwa Bank shortly after graduation where he started taking an interest in politics and he began attending political meetings. In April 2003, he quit his job at what was at that point UFJ Bank. (Which gives you an idea of how quickly the banking scene in Japan changed.) He began giving political speeches on the street, and ran under the LDP banner in the 2003 election. He came a distant second to the DPJ's Yoshi At some point before this election attempt he had become the head of the party's district office. He ran again in 2005 where he narrowly defeated Suematsu. Matsumoto is still single.Politics
Matsumoto is a member of the Ibuki
faction of the LDP. Aside from the policies outlined in the LDP manifesto, Matsumoto is in favor of abolishing special privileges accorded to Diet members (e.x. free train passes). Matsumoto leads by example, or at least he claims to, by communting by train and paying out of pocket and by choosing to drive a used car. In a similar vein among his listed accomplishments, he includes playing a part in ablishing the Diet member's pension plan. As for district specific policy, Matsumoto supports establishing the North Tama region, of which the 19th district is a part, as a a model region of "city and nature balance." Matsumoto served on numerous committees placing third out of 480 Lower House members in terms of committee attendance. While his initial election in 2005 makes him a Koizumi-children, he does have any strong allegiance to Koizumi. A Nationalist website
rates matsumoto highly as a patriot, and his committee participation would seem to support that view, but I have not found any overt nationalist expressions directly attributed to Matsumoto. What's clear, as we'll see in the next section, is that Matsumoto isn't fighting for any particular cause, but rather is a loyal LDP backbencher.Campaign
Looking at Matsumoto's posters it's clear he is selling himself as the young dynamic everyman. His poster proudly proclaims that "HE CAN DO IT, because he's a former salaryman, and not a 2nd generation politician." When I first read this I thought it was a subtle dig at an opponent, but it turns out none of the candidates running in the 19th are hereditary candidates. The second slogan in the upper right calls for a "generational change (世代交代), for a energetic Japan." Generational change plays against the DPJ's election cry of change of government (政権交代). Finally the 35 near the bottom right is his age. So basically Matsumoto playing against the image of the LDP as a group of old white men... I mean old men who inherited their place in politics. This impression was confirmed when I saw Matsumoto campaigning in front of Kunitachi station last evening.
Don't let the picture fool you, Matsumoto's campaign had the attention of a significant crowd of older people on the surrounding sidewalks. The person on the mic is party heavy Sanzo Hosaka, telling onlookers that while he sort of understands LDP fatigue they should really vote for the young Yohei Matsumoto, 35 years-old. Basically his message boiled down to you can vote for another party with your PR vote, but PLEASE vote for Matsumoto he's the future of the party. You'll notice I attached Matsumoto's age after his name. Well basically every time Matsumoto's name was mentioned it was always followed by his age. I understand that you want to repeat the candidate's name as much as possible in order to make sure every passerby remembers the name for election day, but is the name really necessary? It really highlights the ridiculousness of repeating the name over and over again.Chances
Not good. Matsumoto got elected off the Koizumi wave four years ago, and not based on his personal characteristics. Given how close that race was, I doubt he can overcome the current anti-LDP feeling with his "I'm not your typical LDP politician" act. Matsumoto is on the LDP's PR-list for Tokyo, but I don't know how close his margin of defeat will be in this district. The LDP single member constituency candidates are all ranked first on the PR-list, and ties will be broken by margin of defeat in each contest. He may have a chance if it's as close as it was last time, and the vote Matsumoto but not the party in PR if you must rhetoric reaches anyone.Short Summary
Yohei Matsumoto is a political lightweight trying to win election off the fact that he is a YOUNG everyman. Oh, and did I mention he's 35 years old?