Tokyo Damage Report

Political speeches with stagediving

it’s election time in Tokyo! the closer we get to touhyoubi (voting day), the more politicians come around with their sendenka (irritating fucking loudspeaker trucks), and the louder they get. Motherfuckers come into my little-ass neighborhood like 10 times a day disturbing the peace. The front of every train station is also infested with these loud pests. Fortunately, there is a candidate for district supervisor (or whatever the Japanese equivalent is), called Matsumoto-san, who runs a used-furniture store in town and is something of a radical. He’s also the only candidate in town that people actually sit down and listen to when he speaks!!


On 4/19, he did a speech in front of the train station. his followers dressed up like TANUKI (a japanese raccoon).

he spoke briefly (that’s him on the right) but mostly it was disco music: a far cry from the irritating speeches that most politicians make the unwilling public endure.

this guy, with his three pairs of safety goggles, was handing out the costumes to the supporters. His sign reads "raccoon registration."

 

I interviewed some of the tanukis, with various results.


ME: Why do you support him?

Nervous Guy: I’m just here to have fun. How should I say it. . . ? I’m not endorsing him. It’s just. . . heh. . . I’ve been going to his events for years, and it’s a good time.

ME: what does he stand for?

Nervous Guy: um. . . I’m here to enjoy it!

 

ME: Why do you support him?

Film students: We don’t even know him! We heard there was going to be an event here.

We’re making a documentary of it.

ME: What will happen if he wins?

Who knows? We are film students!

 


ME: Why do you support him?

Someone: I’m just here to have fun.

ME: ok! But, uh, what do you think he will do?

Someone: If he wins, he’ll make this town a fun place for young people!


ME: what is that badge on your lapel?

This is “mister fuzakeruna!” (mister don’t-mess-with-me).

ME: is he a mascot?

He’s the mascot.

ME: From the candidate’s point of view, Who is messing with whom?

The Liberal Democratic Party is messing with the common people!

(to his friend) Don’t I look like a gangster in this suit?


 

ME: What do you think he’ll do if he wins?

Lady :Oh, he can’t win!!

ME: Um, well,what do you think he stands for?

Lady :The poor people overthrowing the rich!

His slogan is “riot of the poor!”

ME: Why is everyone wearing raccoon costumes?

Lady :That was Jeremy’s idea. (pausing for thought) But he can’t win!

 


ME: Why do you support him?

Possibly Stoned Guy: It’s our "goen."

ME: huh?

P.S.G.: Goen!

ME: (fumbling with dictionary) That’s not in here!

P.S.G.: Just look up “en”.

ME: Ok, ah!! Your destiny.

P.S.G.: (in english) Both of our destiny! Me and him. To be together right here.

ME: um. Ok. What do you think will happen if he wins?

P.S.G.: Everyday will be like this.

ME: You mean a party like this everyday?

P.S.G.: Actually that would get boring if it happened everyday! Let’s do it according to the calendar! A party guided by calendars!

ME: I heard he will make the police stop ticketing parked bikes.

P.S.G.: really? (suprised that anyone knows anything about Matsumoto’s policies) You must be an expert!!


here, more tanuki in the crowd.

 

While all this disco and drinking was going on, there was a lady politician standing by the station, whose loudspeaker-van had vanished. She seemed stranded. One of the Matsumoto videocameramen decided to follow her around for 10 minutes just to see what she’d do and she kept gesturing for him to stop. It was really Sasha Cohen-ish.

Meanwhile, another one of Matsumoto’s pals dressed up as a "parody politician", spouting gibberish with a loud, annoying megamaphone which did nothing but feed back and annoy everyone. Everyone heckled him, but his "bodyguard" (left) kept the raccoons at bay.

Eventually, (for this was a very sophisticated piece of propaganda) the bodyguard HIMSELF turned into a raccoon, and started dancing. The "politician" was given the heave-ho by the outraged mob (below) , and then chased around the entire circumference of the station by a guy from Brooklyn.


 

ME: so they tell me the tanukis were your idea?

JEREMY; yeah! But it was incredibly hard to do it.

ME: you mean ,hard to make the costumes or hard to convince people that raccoons were emblematic of revolution?

JEREMY; hard to convince people!

ME: deeyamn! Incidentally, the “parody politician” was my favorite part of that demonstration.

JEREMY; that was my idea too!

ME: was he saying the usual-dumb-politician rhetoric , or was he just spewing gibberish?

JEREMY; Actually he spent two weeks thinking about his speech! unfortunately his megaphone didn’t work; it kept cutting out and feeding back.

ME; I thought that was part of his schtick! Ah well- it was excellent anyway.

**UPDATE**

Turns out I mis-stated Jeremy’s theory about raccoons. He said I could quote from his website to explain the theory — but his website is in Japanese. Here is my best attempt:

why tanuki? because I like them! Cats are beloved, and crows are hated, but they both live in the humans’ world without caring. On the other hand, even if a Tanuki comes to Kouenji, they stay totally hidden. That’s why I think Tanuki is like NEET (no education, empoloyment or training) people -- even though they have done nothing wrong, they must stay hidden from society. Isn't it sad? So, let's party in front of the station in our Tanuki costumes, as if a bunch of Tanuki secretly came down from the mountains by dark roads and suddenly materialized there!


 

Here is Matsumoto’s poster:

Later (3;30 am, to be precise), I had a chance to talk with the candidate:

ME: ok, so what would you do if you took over?

MATSUMOTO: get rid of the anti-crime (surveillance) cameras. Allow smoking on the street; it was perfectly legal until recently! Also, tell the police to stop confiscating people’s bicycles (bike parking in Tokyo is like driving 60MPH on the freeway in the U.S.: it’s illegal, but everyone does it). Also, make the rent free!

ME: all the rent? What if someone drove a taxi for 20 years to save money, and they used their savings to buy property the day you were elected? They can’t charge rent?

MATSUMOTO: well, that would be pretty terrible, wouldn’t it? I would only make the rent free for property which the city government owns.

ME: the city owns houses?

MATSUMOTO: yes! (the present situation) it’s like a communist country. Owning public property is a source of income for the government.

ME: ok. Is there anything else you’d do?

MATSUMOTO: I’d make kouenji an autonomous, self-governing town. A commune! That way we’d have the power to make our own laws, like I was talking about earlier.

ME: a scession! Wow! Well, thanks for talking with me, mr. matsumoto!


UPDATE:

the following day (4/20), he once again did an event in front of the station. It was a sort of debate-on-economy-homelessness-unemployment-and-mcjobs which went on for hours, punctuated by disco.

Here he’s talking with Amamiya Karin (雨宮 処凛)、 a professional author, who used to be a member of an organization called MINISUKA UYOKU ("miniskirt right-wing"), and, rumor has it, something called GOSURORIUYOKU ("right wing gothic lolita"). My friend said she is no longer a rightist, but i really hope she still is, because I so desperately want GOSURORIUYOKU to be a real concept.

the sign in English on their office-desk-slash-stage reads, "tanuki is dirty dog! who decided it?"

the meeting ended with the candidate vaulting off of his stage and crowd-surfing, thusly:

(click here for the next protest review)

 

(click here for the beginning of the story)

Election Day Eve in Japan is a totally festive atomosphere. Maybe because it is in spring? But perhaps 500 people were in front of the station, strolling and listening to politicians, drinking, and staying up late. Audaciously, Matsumoto-san set up a huge disco truck right in front of the station; you could hear it as soon as you stepped off the train. The event went from 4 pm to 8ish. DJs would play some music such as “I fought the law” or “I can’t get no satisfaction,” and then haltingly translate the title into Japanese between songs! Every 10 minutes or so , Matsumoto or one of his friends would get on the microphone and say a short speech, then dive into the crowd. At one point, there was a queue of people lined up to dive! Now that’s politics!!

(above, the candidate, and his train station. Kouenji, represent!!)

 

Meanwhile, across the street, the current district supervisor was endorsing a rival candidate and member of the “souka gakkai” party (the political wing of a sinister cult ? think Bhuddist scientology) and it turned into sort of a volume war for awhile, but we outlasted them. A band called HAPPENING played a short set of melodic 1-4-5 ‘70s punk.

(note the leg in the corner. i swear that dude did not touch the ground until the event was over)

After that, these guys in Zapatista masks and pink panther t-shirts (best fashion idea ever?) played dance music that they sampled on the fly, making loops as they went! They got all super technological with it, even sampling Matsumoto and mixing his phrases in.

this guy (below) was not only the best dancer, but he was smoking a cigarette THROUGH A FILTER MASK, while pretend-scratching ON AN OLD ROTARY PHONE. he is my hero and will soon be yours.

 

after 8pm, the loudspeakers were put away, and everyone moved to an island in the center of the nearby taxi-rotary, where people continued to drink until midnight.

Oddly, out of this batch of misfits, dropouts, losers, homeless, and goofballs, it was a “regular guy” salariman that passed out and got in trouble.

My friend was trying to help him wake up, sit up straight, and get home, but he kept straight-up trying to kiss her.

She spent an hour with him, and in between vomiting what looked like beets and taking mini-coma naps, he related the following tale: he lost his wallet, has no wife, no money to get home, and is taking care of his 80 year old grandmother. I was starting to feel really bad for him when he reached up my pal’s skirt. She was standing in a puddle of his vivid purple vomit, steadfastly denying she was drunk. It was that kind of evening.

 

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  1. […] This event "asagaya may day" is organized by mr. Matsumoto. I did a report on his abbie-hoffmanish campaign for Kouenji Mayor here. […]

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