«by Dyron Keith Dabney A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Political Science) ...»
in 1993. In fact, the endorsement from the New Party Sakigake was the only formal support extended to Usami in 1993. Moreover, as a young person of little family fame or fortune, neither he nor Sakigake had access to large sums of money to run a competitive campaign in the district. In short, he lacked the jiban (organized constituency), kaban (briefcase full of money), and kanban (signboard, or personal reputation) that are the traditional building blocks of Type A election campaigns.
By default, then, Usami was stuck with the Type B strategy. Like Matsuzawa across the river in Kawasaki City, he figured that he should target young voters, conservative loyalists who might well have become fed up with the LDP, and independents. Usami hoped he could capitalize on the groundswell of support for the new anti-establishment parties to mobilize voters he could not reach otherwise. He himself said afterward: “The fact that I declared my candidacy for the Lower House three days before the official starting date of campaign, and yet I won a seat in the Lower House, I think is best explained by the popular appeal of Sakigake in 1993” (September 22, 1995 interview).
Sakigake was a young party and Usami was a young candidate. Everything about his campaign punctuated, if not exaggerated his age and a Generation X identity. For, example, his campaign team (staff and volunteers) was composed of his contemporaries from high school, college, MIGM and the community. To project his young, energetic, “new-style” political image, Usami made use of (ironically) a traditional, old-style outdoor canvassing tactic called momotarou to generate voter support. Momotarou gets its name from the popular Japanese folktale, “Momotarou,” or Peach Boy.64 Momotarou 64 Momotarou is a tale of a boy who is discovered in a giant peach. Eventually Momotarou grows up to become a great warrior and village protector. The story revolves around the support he gathers on route to
strong, natural voice (i.e., unamplified by an electronic sound system). In a parade-like fashion, the politician and his entourage navigate their way through side streets and directly into the hearts of residential and local business neighborhoods.
This tactic is a public outreach alternative to sound truck canvassing (gaisensya), which represents the more common form of outdoor canvassing conducted by candidates during the campaign period. Longtime election observers and historians were amused that the youngest candidate running in 1993 had adopted one of the oldest, more traditional campaign tactics for his election campaign. Usami believed the momotarou was an effective and appropriate campaign tactic in 1993 primarily because it distinguished him from other candidates competing in the Tokyo 2nd district; no other candidate performed Momotarou. Momotarou quickly established with voters Usami’s energy, youth and freshness. “By my calculation, I covered about 500 kilometers of the district by foot during the 12 days of the official campaign period. So, I walked more than 40 kilometers per day,” stated Usami. He proclaimed that momotarou was his wild card tactic, and he believed it resonated with voters in a way that gaitou-enzetsu (public speeches made in front of train stations and shopping centers), syuuakai (town hall meetings), campaign posters and pamphlets, and gaisensya (sound truck canvassing) could not.
Momotarou is far less popular with candidates because it is physically demanding.
Momotarou appears more meaningful than gaitou-enzetsu in the sense that the contact and interaction with voters are intimate. What’s more, the contact made is more likely to the Isle of Death to vanquish a band of evil ogres. Essentially, the focal point of the campaign tactic momotarou, is support gathering. Rather, enlisting support of voters along the campaign trail.
indiscriminately target all resident and non-resident foot traffic. However, it is physically exhausting and consumes much of the time of the candidate. Thus, efficiency is severely sacrificed with Momotarou. Gaitou-enzetsu, alternatively, is a far more efficient means to maximize a candidate’s exposure to voters.
Incidentally, momotarou was not the most distinctive aspect of Usami’s imagebased campaign. That distinction went to “poster-swapping,” a tactic that originated out of pure necessity during the sudden candidacy in 1993. Because of Usami’s last-minute decision to run, there was no time for professional campaign posters to be printed. Usami thus advertised his candidacy for the Lower House the first few days of the official campaign with a simple, 11 ½ inch by 14 inch homemade poster. A head-and-shoulder silhouette of Usami dominated the poster, with the statement, “tadaima, junbi-chuu” (“Currently under construction”), and a catch-phrase, “jidai wo kaeru no wa yuuki” (“Change takes courage”). Within a few days the homemade posters were replaced by professionally printed ones, but Usami thought the swap itself left a positive impression.
In sum, Usami relied on the reformist image of New Party Sakigake and his own young, energetic image, which he projected mainly through exceptionally energetic, direct campaigning. Arguably, it probably only could have worked in the political turmoil of 1993. In an odd way, the turmoil helped Usami indirectly, by reducing turnout (voters appeared interested but confused by all the new parties, as well as turned off by the old ones—in Tokyo 2nd district turnout fell from 66 to 60 percent). The five incumbents (as well as the JCP repeat candidate) all lost substantial numbers of votes.
The results of the 1993 election in Tokyo 2nd district are presented in Table 4.2. Usami
back in 1990. The incumbent he defeated was Ueda, the Socialist, who in 1990 (by all accounts a stellar electoral year for the JSP) had finished second with over 100,000 votes, but plunged to 54,820 in 1993 and lost to Usami by about 7,000.
The 1996 General Election In response to the 1994 election reform, the Tokyo 2nd district was split into the Tokyo 3rd and 4th districts. The Tokyo 3rd district included all of Shinagawa ward, 25 percent of Ohta ward and an island chain off the coast of Tokyo bay. The Tokyo 4th district was composed of the remaining 75 percent of Ohta ward. Although Usami was from Ohta, he had gotten more support in Shinagawa in 1993 (possibly because its electorate was younger). His 1993 support in Shinagawa coupled with the perceived weakness of other candidates challenging the SMD seat in the Tokyo 3rd led him to run in the new Tokyo 3rd district.
no one else from the old Tokyo 2nd was moving to Tokyo 3rd—the leading vote-getter Ishihara Shintarou had just retired from the Lower House after eight terms over 25 years, while his fellow LDP member Arai Shoukei and the DSP chairman Oouchi Keigo, who had virtually tied for second place in 1993, went to the Tokyo 4th district. The Koumeitou incumbent elected to move to the PR tier.
However, Usami did face two formidable contenders. First, the official LDP candidate was Kurimoto Shin’ichirou, a popular “television professor” (an expression defining academicians who make regular appearances on television programs of sociopolitical content), who had been recruited by Ozawa Ichirou as a new candidate for the Shinsei Party in the Setagaya area in the 1993 election, and won. However, when the Shinsei Party fell apart, Kurimoto was influenced by former classmates Koizumi Jun’ichirou and Fukuda Yasuo to move toward the LDP. The LDP already had candidates for the successor districts carved out of his old 3rd district, so it assigned Kurimoto to the new Tokyo 3rd district (his independent candidacy in 1993 and multiple party memberships before the LDP endorsement had weakened his position for preferential district placement granted to other party incumbents). Kurimoto was an outsider to the district, both in terms of any ties with voters and approval from the local party branch, but his face was well known as a Japanese “talent,” and he wound up getting the support of Ishihara’s formidable machine (including more than forty ward councilors).
Second, and just as worrisome for Usami, was the launch of another new party, the New Frontier Party, that put up a new face, Matsubara Jin, to challenge the LDP’s
also young (then age 40), also a graduate of the Matsushita Institute of Government and Management, and also a life-long resident of Tokyo. Moreover, he had been a two-term city councilor in Ohta linked to the Shinsei Party, which would give him a certain amount of organizational support. Indeed, since the Koumeitou was now supporting the NFP he could expect that Type A support as well.
Despite being the incumbent, then, Usami was up against some tough competition in these two candidates with some Type A support and a good basis for Type B as well.
In Matsubara’s case, that was strongly helped by his party label: the New Frontier Party still looked fresh in 1996, while no-longer-new New Party Sakigake had come to look much more conventional and was on its way out. The logical place for Usami to go was to the DPJ, which was compatible in ideology and image, and did not have a candidate for Tokyo 3rd. Others from Sakigake and other parties from 1993 had already moved in that direction, but Usami was unwilling to do so. He remained a member of Sakigake because he thought jumping from one party to the next undermined the party system, confused voters, and diminished his credibility with voters he cultivated under the Sakigake label. However, he accepted an endorsement from the DPJ.
We saw in the case of Matsuzawa (and most other candidates) that moving into a much smaller district, where one needed to collect a higher percentage of the vote, led to considerable attention to building up new organizational support, including trying to gain backing from local politicians and groups who earlier had been tied to a competitor in the old, larger district. Usami had no organizational base from 1993 to build on, and as a matter of principle he declined to pay much attention to Type A strategies at all. That is,
House election. He targeted the same types of voters in 1996 that he did in 1993, and his campaign behavior changed only nominally. He did establish token kouenkai, and he conducted regular town hall meetings (syuu-kai) and study groups (benkyou-kai), which facilitated contact and communication with voters. Yet, apart from these additions, his campaign behavior did not change. He made no concerted effort to court local politicians to construct an electoral keiretsu.
Possession of a keiretsu and electorally motivated ties to politicized organizations rarely came without a cost. The public statement Usami wanted to make in 1996 was that the relationships that Diet members often entered with local politicians and organizations were frequent breeding grounds for clientelism and corruption. It was a statement that condemned traditional campaign behavior. Usami reasoned that since he did not have this kind of support in 1993 (and yet, got elected) he would resist doing so in 1996. He took pride in the fact that his 1993 victory did not require the aid of local politicians, organizations, or an extensive application of conventional campaign tactics. His operational staff, in 1996, as in 1993, was an ensemble of intimates: family members, friends, high school and college peers, as well as residents of his neighborhood in Ohta ward, Higashi-Yukigaya. His election campaign was based on grassroots social networks and young volunteers.
Interestingly, Usami had so much faith in his successful campaign in 1993 that he revived the “poster swap.” Though born out of necessity in 1993, the idea emerged as one of Usami’s 1996 campaign tactics. Two days before election day Usami replaced the traditional, conservative campaign poster with an unconventional one that magnified his
party attachment, etc.) included in a campaign poster framed Usami’s nude, crossed-arm torso. Usami believed voters responded strongly to the visual stimuli of candidates (more so than verbal stimuli, which they were used to tuning out), and that they were visually selective and sensitive. Although the poster represented an innovative twist to a common campaign practice, it was risky from the standpoint of its potential to offend traditionalminded voters. Still, Usami counted on the swapped posters, particularly the semi-nude poster, to leave an unforgettable imprint in the minds of voters.
Usami learned from his campaign in 1993, but in retrospect at least he seems to have learned the wrong lessons. Indeed he may have miscalculated from the start. In an interview, Usami mentioned that according to his calculations he only needed to get a little over 20 percent of the vote to get re-elected, if enough candidates competed. He saw no big difference between the MMD and SMD, and as a result, saw no need to make any significant adjustments to his campaign strategy and style. Usami’s perspective on the MMD and SMD systems in 1996, in fact, was not unfounded since the multiple candidates slated to compete in the Tokyo 3rd district in the 1996 general election still resembled a competition under the MMD system rather than the SMD system where the field of competitors should narrow to a few serious candidates.
In 1993, Usami had finished fifth among seven serious candidates, drawing 13 percent of the vote, just enough to win. In 1996, he finished fourth among four serious candidates, drawing 15 percent of the vote (see Table 4.3). The winner, the LDP’s Kurimoto with his great organizational strength, won with 32 percent of the vote in a tight race with Usami’s fellow Matsushita Institute alumni Matsubara (NFP), who drew
Despite obvious shortcomings of Usami’s campaign strategy for the 1996 general election, he insisted that his poor showing in the polls was due to the media’s dismissive view of his candidacy. “The media made it difficult for the public to support me by presenting data that showed I could not win” (February 14, 1997 interview). His interpretation of the election outcome was denial of the ineptness of his campaign strategy.