Public Outcry Over Unrelated, Inappropriate Posters in Tokyo Gubernatorial Race

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Many posters featuring a woman from a beauty salon, unrelated to any Tokyo gubernatorial election candidate, are seen on an election poster board installed in Tokyo’s Bunkyo Ward on Friday afternoon, as indicated by the dotted lines in this picture.

Election posters displayed on election poster boards for the Tokyo gubernatorial election– which was announced on Thursday, with voting set for July 7 — are causing great confusion. The confusion is due to reasons including the presence of many posters unrelated to any election candidates and some posters featuring QR codes that lead to paid websites. The Tokyo election administration commission has been inundated with complaints from the public, such as, “I don’t want my children to see them [these posters],” and “Can’t it [this situation] be regulated by law?”

In a residential area in the Omotesando district of Tokyo, children walked by an election poster board that had 24 posters resembling ads for an adult entertainment business, each featuring a photo of a young man. The man in the photo is not an election candidate. On another election poster board installed in front of the Nakano Ward government office in Tokyo, 24 posters featuring large photos of young women were displayed. Each poster featured a different woman, but none of them were running in the election.

Meanwhile, posters from an organization affiliated with the NHK Party, which has fielded candidates for the election, have QR codes printed on them. When these codes are scanned, they lead to a website promoting a paid social media service that is unrelated to the election.

“The company that operates the paid social media covered my deposit fee for the gubernatorial election [¥3 million],” a female candidate from the organization told The Yomiuri Shimbun. She also said that she would not conduct election campaigning on the social media platform linked through the QR code.

In the latest Tokyo gubernatorial election, the NHK Party, including affiliated organizations, has fielded 24 candidates. They have solicited monetary donors with the slogan, “Seize the chance to jack the [election] boards and expand your business,” providing those who donate with the right to place their own posters on one of the roughly 14,000 election poster boards across Tokyo.

At a regular press conference on Friday, NHK Party leader Takashi Tachibana responded to criticisms about displaying posters unrelated to the election by saying, “We’ll address it if we decide it’s problematic, but we intend to continue displaying them [the posters] throughout the election period.”

A candidate who put up posters featuring a nearly nude woman received a warning from the Metropolitan Police Department on Thursday for violating a Tokyo anti-nuisance ordinance.

The election administration commission had received over 1,200 complaints via phone and email by Friday evening regarding such posters. Complaints included “Take them down” and “What if children see them?”

“Since they [these issues] are not immediately considered to be a violation of the Public Offices Election Law, we’re unable to take action ourselves. We intend to monitor how the police handle the situation,” an official from the election administration commission said.

A 73-year-old unemployed man from Tokyo’s Kita Ward expressed his concern, saying, “It’s strange that posters feature the faces of people who are not even candidates. Shouldn’t there be legal regulations to prevent this?”