Mr. Ryokichi Kawashima was drafted and fought in the World War II for 7 years. He is plain angry at the chicken hawks in LDP and Japan Restoration Party and worried about the direction of the country. So, this 94-year-old grandpa decided to run for office from Saitama 12th District, using the money he has saved from his pension as the deposit (which will not be returned if he, or any candidate, does not get a certain number of votes in the election).
He says, "A man gotta do what a man gotta do."
From Sports Hochi (12/8/2012):
94-year-old running as an independent in Saitama 12th District, using the funeral money he has saved
Mr. Ryokichi Kawashima, who is a new, independent candidate in Saitama 12th District, is 94 years old. Grandpa, the oldest candidate in this election, speaks grimly about his resolution. "I used my pension savings for my funeral as election campaign fund." The youngest candidate by the way is Mr. Kazuya Aoki of DPJ in Gunma 4th District, who will turn 25 on December 13.
Even though he is 94 years old, Mr. Kawashima still has the keen vision of 1.2 [20/16 in the US]. He is worried about the direction that this country is taking, and tells us why he decided to run for office. "I felt it was my turn." He came up with the deposit money of 3 million yen from the pension that he saved up for his funeral. It is indeed an indomitable resolve. This is his first candidacy
He never wanted to become a politician, but as he listened to the politicians his fighting spirits were stirred. "Right-leaning (LDP President Shinzo) Abe and (Japan Restoration Party Leader Shintaro) Ishihara are moving to the right, they say "military" with ease. (Japan Restoration Party Deputy Leader Toru) Hashimoto is just absurd. We surrendered unconditionally [he is speaking of World War II]. What has happened to Japan? I got worried." He is a little bit hard of hearing, but his weapon is his rapid, machine-gun talk which doesn't stop once it starts.
He was born in 1918, the year the World War I ended. He was drafted in 1939, to fight in the World War II. He fought in China for seven years, many of his fellow soldiers died. "I survived the war, I have had a good time. If I don't do anything now, I don't know how I can justify myself to the soldiers who died." On November 30, he gathered his family members to his house and declared that he would run for office. His family was initially against it, but he prevailed. "I thought I would ask my friends to help me, but they were all dead."
Mr. Kawashima had worked in many industries. Now he lives by himself in his own home in Hanyu City in Saitama Prefecture. His back is straight, he walks with a spring in his steps. He cooks, does laundry, cleans, and drives, all by himself. According to the Election Department Management Section of Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, he is the oldest candidate at 95 years of age, among 1504 candidates for this election.
It is a tough competition in Saitama 12th District, with the DPJ candidate, the LDP candidate, and former LDP candidate battling it out. "To be honest, I don't think I will win. But I want to make myself heard." His campaign pledge is the adherence to the Article 9 of the Constitution, opposition to nuclear power plants, and having the emperor as "head of the state" instead of "symbol". His campaign started late as he had decided to run right before the official announcement of the election. On December 7, he finally started to make pamphlets and posters. He plans to make campaign speeches on the street.
"A man gotta do what a man gotta do."
But you could almost hear the steps of the military boots in Japan these days, not just in bellicose campaign speeches by the likes of Shinzo Abe or Boy Wonder and his new sidekick Shintaro Ishihara. Just yesterday (December 9), the Osaka Prefectural Police arrested the associate professor at Hannan University for supposedly holding a demonstration without a permit to protest against the disaster debris burning in Osaka City. His alleged crime was to have walked about 250 meters inside the JR Osaka Station, handing out pamphlets in October.
What scares me is not that he was arrested but the reaction of many prominent people I see on Twitter to this arrest, approving the police action as "legitimate", "their right to arrest as they see fit".
All over the so-called developed world, left or right, the governments are exerting ever-increasing, arbitrary power over the citizens, and the citizens are hard pressed to find the reasons to justify what's happening around them.
94-year-old Kawashima must know that very well.