Give us our daily bread

Ad for Japan's Komeito political party, April 12, 2003: click for larger image

Bringing back the advertising theme, the above poster is an ad for Japan’s New Komeito political party, found just around the corner from the house. The copy at the top of the ad reads majime ni hataraku hito ga mukuwareru shakai o, the exact nuance of which escapes me but perhaps something along the lines of “society will reap the benefits of hardworking people.” The tag line overlayed on top of the slice of bread reads seikatsu yotou, koumeito. yotou is the Japanese word for the “ruling government party,” and seikatsu means “life,” as in daily life (koumeito is of course the name of the party). Honestly I’m not sure how that is supposed to be construed (eg. something like “ruling party of everyday life people”), but like all advertisements, I suppose it’s a bit open-ended at any rate.

The origins of the New Komeito party go back to 1964, but in its current form, the party only dates from 1998. Japan’s 3rd largest political party, it has been a member of the ruling coalition goverment since 1999, with currently 54 seats in the Diet. It is led by Chief Representative Takenori Kanzaki, who is pictured in the lower left of the poster. The newly revamped website has a fair amount of information in English about the party’s history and platform. On the surface of it, sounds like a party I’d be interested in supporting. Oh yeah, forgot I had no voting rights in this country.

4 Replies to “Give us our daily bread”

  1. Not very sure, but the “yo” in “yotou” is ataeru, which might carry a meaning of, the party that provides your daily life. Also means a party that protects your life, something like that. Your life is secured if you vote us!

  2. I actually recently had a conversation with a Komeito candidate for local office in Yokosuka, and we talked about a number of the things that Komeito has done, and is doing. Through what I’ve found, I also feel that support for Komeito is a good thing. On the other hand, I think that the very close to institutionalized support of the Soka Gakkai Buddhist Sect (which I beleive in and practice, so this is not slander) for the party is wrong, and kind of scary. I am a strong believer in the seperation of church and state, and having been to a meeting or two where the assumption that everyone who was a member of the religion would support komeito was pretty strong, I can honestly say that Komeito is a little bit too closely intertwined with SGI for my taste.

    UltraBob

  3. Because of its cult associations, Komeito isn’t going to go anywhere but back to the recycling bin to be melted down and reformed into another party (wasn’t it “Sakigake” a few years ago). The Komeito candidates in my area seem good on paper, my wife said, but the idea that you would be putting power in the hands of a religious organization is scary to the average Japanese, after the murderous Aum and the bizarro Ho-no-hana.

    My wife got a telephone call on Friday night from an old college friend she hadn’t heard from in years. The conversation quickly changed from “How are you” to “Please vote for the Komeito candidates in our area, because they are struggling.” No. 1, what the hell kind of endorsement is that? No. 2, she’s lucky my wife is a polite person, I would have responded considerably less kindly.

    BTW, I used the word “cult” above because Soka Gakkai seems to be more than buddhism, it seems to revolve around this one man, Daisaku Ikeda. When I first arrived in Japan, I dated a girl a few times who tried to get me in, and gave me some magazines. every single picture in the magazine was a photo of Ikeda looking resolute and majestic, or Ikeda doing the city council stytle grip and grin photo-op with Spanish royalty, diplomats, heads of South American states. It was creepy, in a way that became creepier a few months later with the subway gassing by a different personality cult. I don’t mean to suggest that Soka Gakkai would do such a thing, just that pursuit of political power by a religious group is scary.

  4. Bob and Nils,
    thanks for adding the personal experiences with Komeito and their relationship with Soka Gakkai. Reading the Komeito site and others last night it was obvious close ties remained, as do the questions, but not knowing any of it I refrained from comment. Suffice it to say, like both of you, I don’t feel comfortable in the slightest with strong relationships between religious organizations and political ones.

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