Lipstick on men. Forced smiles. False promises. Japan isn’t so different from the rest of the world after all.

It seems you can’t walk down the steet in Tokyo these days without being accosted by funny little men wearing ill-fitting suits and gormless smiles. And no, I’m not talking about the pissed salary men you were taking pictures of on the Yamanote line last Friday night: rather the politicians gracing the posters currently splattered all over the city.

It’s 2013 – and Japanese election posters are finally emerging from a half-century of formulaic designs. Some of them actually look like they have been designed by a real person now as opposed to some guy in a NET cafe on Microsoft Paint. But while the designs may be getting (slightly) cleaner and refined, the art direction still looks like something straight out of a men’s shopping catalogue from 1986: jackets draped over shoulders, fingers pointing in the air, melty looks into the distance.


Clenched fist: you tell ’em, tiger.

It’s interesting to think about the psychology behind many of these posters. Some candidates choose to smile, others choose to give a steely glance. Some men decide that lipstick is the way forward, while others go the complete opposite and look like they haven’t washed in months. I guess, though, it’s difficult to decide what pose to strike when faced with the issues at hand. I mean with more than 100,000 people still displaced from their homes after Fukushima, is a smile really what the public wants?


I’d vote for this sexy smile any day of the week

Right now, the tsunami victims are pissed off. And rightly so. A government audit last month showed $148 billion budgeted for disaster reconstruction was actually winding up elsewhere, from a random contact lens factory in central Japan to road construction right down in Okinawa.

The economy is a mess, and thanks to these posters, so are the streets. 

But hey, gotta smile.Image


  1. Pingback: The face of Japanese politics | Ikimasho!

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