Why so serious?
The head of an event planning and temporary employment agency in Japan who also is a candidate for governor of Chiba Prefecture made a public appearance as the notorious comic book villain the Joker, complete with white clown paint and sporting a burgundy purple jacket with mustard-colored pocket square.
Yuusuke Kawai made his candidacy official with the Party to Make All of Chiba a Land of Dreams and Magic with a plan that seemed to focus on agitating his adversary, Masayuki Hiratsuka, according to soranews24.com.
His opposing candidate, who is a former member of Protect the Nation from NHK, is the current head of the People’s Sovereignty Party, who famously has an anti-mask position and slogans such as “COVID-19 is just a cold” and “Vaccines are dangerous.”
The speech, broadcast on Japan’s public broadcasting corporation NHK, kicked off with the candidate alerting viewers to record his comments and share them on YouTube and TikTok.
With an homage to the character played by Joaquin Phoenix, Kawai unpacked his platform which includes constructing a red tower, rechristening the Narita Airport as Disney Sky, designating “Let It Go” from Disney’s “Frozen” as Chiba’s theme song, and making the word “trash” illegal by substituting it with the words “star fragment.”
The aspirational “Clown Prince of Crime” also discussed the anti-maskers in Tokyo, alluding to the protest slogan, “The novel coronavirus is just a cold,” according to kotaku.com.
“Just getting colds is not pleasant,” he noted, going on to say that masks can also fend off seasonal allergies and that some people actually enjoy using masks to cover their faces.
Tokyo Sports could not help but question the candidate on his strange look.
“Since the clown is kind of a dark hero, I had this impression that I could get the support of the masses,” explained Kawai, who left his job and tried to join the entertainment industry as an aspiring comic.
When his career turned out to be a flop and he couldn’t make it on television, he did what many failed entertainers do and started a YouTube channel. There he put out a music video called “It’s Show Time.”
“I’m going to aim for laughs,” he said to Tokyo Sports. “Even if talked about my true self, it wouldn’t be news.”
Observers online reacted to the strange spectacle, with one saying: “Wow… look at that lineup.”
“Elections seem to be becoming literal circuses really quickly,” reacted another.
Some think this may be a sign that Chiba is unraveling, with one comment reading, “Well, I guess that’s the end of Chiba then.”
Another pointed out, “I love how Goto is wearing a mask in the picture next to that anti-mask guy!”
“So we got the anti-mask guy, anti-pants guy, and The Joker…huh,” one viewer said in response to the strange field of candidates.
Pundits online have explained how because of the election rules, if a candidate receives at least a tenth of the vote then their registration fee is refunded in full. This rule is in place to sometimes attract people to utilize elections to function as self-promotion platforms rather than a sincere interest in civil service, because they have no actual probability of winning.
The wannabe comedian seemed to make some attempts to alter the costume just enough to not look exactly like the “real” Joker, presumably to avoid copyright claims from DC Comics.
Strangely, this is not the first Japanese candidate who dressed in a costume to announce their platform. Just last year, another candidate dressed as a Lelouch from “Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion” but was forced to issue an apology after getting scolded by the anime company Sunrise.
Election day in Chiba Prefecture is March 21.