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LDP Candidate Tarō Asō Gives Speech in Akihabara

posted on 2007-09-16 19:02 EDT
Candidate to replace former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe holds rally in Akiba

Tarō Asō and Yasuo Fukuda, the two Liberal Democratic Party (LDP or Jimintō) politicians hoping to replace former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe, spent the weekend trying to gain support from party members and the electorate. Asō, who shares many of the conservative views that Abe has and also served as Foreign Minister in his cabinet, spent part of his weekend gathering support in a place that caters to his personal interests: Akihabara.

Asō, a self-proclaimed manga fan and vocal supporter of Japan's manga and anime industries, came to Japan's otaku capital (known by the nickname "Akiba") on Sunday evening to deliver a speech to his supporters. "If you try to assert your personal character in Nagata-chō [home of the Japanese Diet/government complex], people make fun of you," said Asō. "In Akihabara, it makes you popular." According to observers, about 1,000 young people showed up to support Asō at the late rally, which took place in front of Japan Railways' Akihabara Station at around 7:00 p.m.

The candidate has turned his love of manga into one of his assets, gathering support from manga and anime fans across Japan. The Mainichi Shimbun paper quotes one of Asō's supporters at the rally as saying, "Let's make [Asō] the first Prime Minister from Akiba!" "Your support gives me strength," said the politician, responding to applause from the crowd.

Asō's love for Anime and Manga has had a huge impact on the anime industry in the past week. His candidacy is cited as the reason anime related stocks soared last week. Earlier this year, the politician created an International Manga Award with the aim of boosting the popularity of Japanese pop culture and subcultures overseas. In 2006, Asō gave a detailed speech on "cultural diplomacy" at Digital Hollywood University that was later translated and posted to the website for the World Cosplay Summit website.

Former Prime Minister Abe resigned earlier this month, citing health problems and stress as reasons for his departure. Abe took much of the blame for losing the LDP's majority in the upper house of Japan's Diet parliament to its main opponent, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ or Minshūtō). In seeking his replacement, the LDP membership is split between the conservative Asō and Fukuda, who has promised a more liberal approach to party leadership. In an appearance on Japanese television, Asō stated that he is likely to lose the nomination, but plans to remain in the race to give LDP members "a choice."

Source: Jiji Shinpō, Mainichi Shimbun

Photo © Mainichi Shinbunsha

Official Ministry of Foreign Affairs Profile for Tarō Asō

This article has a follow-up: Anime/Manga Stocks Drop as Asō's Rival Leads in Polls (2007-09-17 07:54)
follow-up of Manga Fan Tarō Asō is a Frontrunner to Lead Japan (Updated)
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