I photographed him last year when he tried to get elected in the lower house poll in Tokyo. He lost that particular race but having secured 70,000 votes he understands that his message is one that many people perhaps want to hear.
It is a hard job campaigning in the Tokyo summer hear but Yamomoto San has given up a lot more than sweat for his beliefs. His acting career suffered as the media shut its doors to him after publicly stating his opposition to nuclear energy. In Japan celebrities are expected to be passive and not have opinions. Yet Yamamoto san has always stood up for what he believes in: from the dangers of nuclear energy to the rights of teenagers to use hair gel. Having spent some of his childhood travelling and volunteering in The Philippines there were rumours that the lack of future prospects was forcing him to leave Japan and live there. But it appears he is staying now; trying again to keep the anti nuclear message in the forefront of Japanese political debate by running for the Upper House elections this month
He has the same passion as before. He strongly believes that the nuclear policies of the Japanese government, especially under Prime Minister Abe are going to affect the future of the country and the people in it. He called the Ministry of Education’s raising of the limit of acceptable radiation exposure for children from 1 millisievert to 20 millisieverts a year was “an act of murder”.
Those are fighting words and he certainly seemed to be be more professionally taking the fight to the powers that be. Though his supporters are still mostly volunteer and there is an informality to his politics that makes it accessible and attractive. How can you not like a election hopeful that gives a speech in shorts?
I wish him luck
UPDATE JULY 22nd
Taro Yamamoto succeeded in securing a seat in a five seat district of Tokyo. I picked up uover 660,00 votes and was the forth most popular candidate or party in the poll. Upon victory he refused to do the usual “banzai” as a celebration, saying that he had done nothing to celebrate yet.
“I will do a banzai to celebrate the occasion when I really end up helping the victims of the nuclear disaster. A thorny path lies ahead of me. Vested nuclear interests will no doubt try to sabotage my efforts.”
Anyway is is still an amazing result for a man that the media mostly ignored until it became apparent he might win and for an organisation that is not an official party yet and relied on the organisational skills of 1,200, mostly amateur, volunteers. So congratulations Yamamoto San!