Monday, July 16, 2007

TV Commercials for the Upper House Election

For your viewing pleasure:

LDP: If you understand but cannot read Japanese, go to bottom left of the web page. The thirty and fifteen second versions of the commercial are third and fourth from the bottom respectively. This commercial is very much Shinzo Abe's baby. It faithfully goes through all the main talking points about the good things the LDP has done for us (it wisely avoids the Constitution) and concludes with "Kaikaku ka Gyakkou ka (Reform or Reversal?)". Basically, it's a policy statement in 30 (15) seconds..

DPJ: The five July versions pick up on the "Seikatsu ga Daiichi (Our Daily Life Is the Most Important)"theme revealed to us in the June commercial, but this time around manage to avoid the preachy tone of most Japanese political commercials altogether in an understated series of real-life (looking) people telling us that taxes/caring for the elderly/education/public services/public pensions/public safety (but no more than two at a time;l you have only 15 seconds, which is about as long as most people will listen to unexpected political messages) are their concerns and that DPJ cares. The commercials also do a good job of hiding Ichiro Ozawa's main weakness, which is that he is a visibly uncomfortable public speaker. Kudos to my good friend (as well as of many of you readers) for finally convincing the DPJ leadership to do it his way. Alas, it no longer gives us such surprise nuggets of information such as that Naoto Kan and Yukio Hatoyama can actually talk with each other in front of a TV camera without their heads exploding (revealed to us in the making-of-the-movie version that is no longer available on the DPJ website).

New Komeito: A straightforward statement from the party leader telling you that the New Komeito is for the little guy.

New People's Party: Next to the karaoke image are the NPP commercials. The top one, a barebones version, features Tamio Watanuki and Sizuka Kamei, the oldest and ugliest pair of party leaders on the planet outside of Cuba singing karaoke against a stark prison-wall-textured background. It is also the most endearing of all the commercials. And I mean the LDP, DPJ, New Komeito, and NPN ones as well. The Wind in the Willows would still be doing Broadway if the two gentlemen had been cast as Mr. Toad and Mr. Badger. The bottom one, which features Mr. Watanuki telling a group of young slackers to shape up, is fun too. The commercials use the "teikou seiryoku (resisting forces)" label that Prime Minister slapped on them to great effect in the lead-up to his 2005 Lower House landslide victory. The obvious awareness of the paerty's core constituency and the lack of a sense of self-importance on the part of the devil-may-care leaders allows the technically clunky commercials to rise above the gaggle of political commercials, including even the finely pitched DPJ 15-second takes. The two stars achieve an artless charm usually reserved to children and animals.

New Party Nippon: This may be the tormented party leader CM of this campaign. A nondescript statement of what the party stands for by Yasuo Tanaka, the party leader, against a somewhat distracting background of floating word strips, is suddenly replaced by a huge hand winding up a small windup doll version of Mr. Yasuo, who then fast-forwards automaton-like through what must be the NPN talking points, only I am too disturbed to listen.

The Social Democratic Party and the Communist Party web sites do not have links to commercials. Should we read any meaning into this?

Update: Julián Ortega Martínez informs the blog that the Japan Communist Party does have TV commercials on its website. Gracias, Julián.