Japan: Politics as usual
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Japan: Politics as usual

Arun Sudhaman

Very interesting story from my main man David Blecken at Media Asia on Japanese political parties' attempts to embrace digital communication as part of the general election campaign. The moves seem more hesitant than full-fledged, given Twitter use is outlawed during the official 12-day election period. And most of the programmes appear relatively simple attempts to shift campaigning into an online arena. There does not, for example, to be much use of digital media to organise and mobilise supporters or raise funds. The best bit must be the attack ad that the ruling LDP party is running on its website. Check it after the jump. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZpSfahQ--0&feature=channel_page] It is tempting to think that the parties may simply be deploying some shiny social media tactics to boost their appeal in mainstream media. Some people would argue that the Conservative Party in the UK does exactly that too. It is an easy way to earn some relatively fawning coverage, even if it is hardly the stuff of which election successes are made. There is plenty of talk in the UK media, for example, that David Cameron has won the e-campaigning battle hands-down...on the basis of a few online videos and some loud rightwing bloggers. Little attention is ever paid to real digital campaigning at a local level, which is what we tried to do in this story for PRWeek. Japanese politicians rule in tight collusion with the country's newspapers. I wonder if they are quite ready to cast off the shackles just yet and start listening and talking to voters. Even if they do, they are stymied by a government infrastructure that limits the effective power the cabinet can eventually wield. If digital communication is to transform Japanese politics, you feel a corresponding reform of its entire political system is probably necessary.
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