Tokyo Gubernatorial Election Has More Candidates than Space for Posters on Official Bulletin Boards

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A candidate attaches his election poster contained in a transparent folder to the edge of an election board in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on Thursday. The photo has been partially modified.

The election for Tokyo governor has drawn so many candidates that the official bulletin boards for their posters set up around the city do not have enough space to accommodate them all.

The Tokyo metropolitan government’s Election Administration Commission said that it prepared space for 48 posters, only to find that 56 people filed for candidacy.

The situation has forced the commission make the unusual request of asking late-comers — the 49th person and later who joined the race — to create their own spaces for their posters to the edge of the boards.

According to the commission, the candidacy documents of 48 individuals went through the pre-screening process as of June 13. While the possibility remained that others would would file for candidacy, the commission had no plan to increase the number of spaces on the boards.

Following the start of the official campaign period on Thursday, the commission distributed A3-size (297mm x 420mm) transparent folders for holding posters to the extra candidates, and asked them to attach them to the edge of boards with tape or thumbtacks.

“We apologize to candidates for the extra work they have to do, but a place has been provided to display their posters and we believe we have ensured fairness,” a commission official explained.

On Thursday evening, one of the late candidate was observed attaching his poster in a clear folder to the edge of a bulletin board in Shinjuku Ward with thumbtacks. The poster flapped back and forth with each gust of wind, making it difficult to see it from the front.

The candidate said he planned to repeat the process at 1,000 bulletin boards in the ward as well as Suginami Ward and others. “Compared to other candidates, this is clearly unfair,” he said. “Even if it’s done later, I want the bulletin boards to be made bigger.”

Ritsumeikan University Prof. Hiroshi Komatsu, a constitutional scholar well-versed in election law, said the solution can lead to inequities.

“The Public Offices Election Law stipulates that the setting up of election boards is to be done by the election commission,” Komatsu said. “Clear folders are at the mercy of wind and rain, so it is possible that fairness among candidates cannot be maintained. There can be doubts that the commission is fulfilling its responsibility stipulated by the law.”