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national

Japanese town livestreams elected politicians faces to make sure they aren’t sleeping in meetings

40 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The city of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, had a problem. It had come to citizens’ attention that a number of their city council members were committing improprieties. Even worse, they were brazenly engaging in this unethical conduct right in the council’s chambers.

So what sort of transgressions were going on? Taking bribes? Getting grabby with interns? No, they were sleeping during city council meetings, as can be seen in the video here.

To be fair, no one was showing up in their pajamas with a pillow and blanket. Instead, those who were sleeping were dozing off in their seats as their colleagues gave speeches and brought forth topics for debate. Still, most people would say that they’d prefer their elected representatives at least stay conscious when ostensibly discussing and setting public policies that affect their constituents. Oh, and in addition to those who dozed off, one city councilman was seen with a historical fiction novel in hand, reading it at his seat while he was supposed to be listening to the discussion going on.

The people of Ichikawa were, naturally, extremely upset about this. When the napping was first noticed back in the summer, the city received more than 100 phone calls and letters of complaint, with messages such as “Do your jobs!”, “This is beyond lazy,” and “They should be removed from office.”

In an effort to restore the public’s faith in the council, its more earnest members came up with an idea. About five years ago, the Ichikawa city council started streaming its plenary sessions on its YouTube Channel, and until last summer the camera would generally zoom in and focus on whoever was standing at the podium at the front of the room and addressing the other members. Now, though, the cameras are turned around more frequently are turned around more frequently to show the faces of the listening council members, so that everyone watching the stream can see if they’re awake, as shown in the part of the video cued up here.

The facial view is key. If seen from behind, there’s wiggle room for council members to claim that they weren’t asleep, just sitting very steal and breathing deeply, perhaps with their head cocked at a slightly unusual angle while paying close attention to the proceedings. With the camera pointed at their faces, though, anyone sleeping on the job will be caught red-handed/eyes-closed.

The new camera angles started being used in September, with city council chairman Osami Matsuaga saying “With this near measure, I hope that all members of the council will conduct themselves appropriately and make an effort to earn back the trust of our city’s residents.” Yuki Sato, a councilwoman serving her first term, also voiced her support for the countermeasure. “I think it is a very god thing for people to be able to visually check on the council members using their devices. It creates a cohesive atmosphere that the council meetings are to be taken seriously.”

However, turning the cameras around has not instantly solved the problem. During the council’s September meetings, the most recent session to be live-streamed, some members were still seen nodding off, and some have voiced their displeasure at the new camera protocol, saying “The real problem is that the discussions are sleep-inducing,” and “The fault lies with the uninteresting, unengaging discussions.” One even went so far as to say “I don’t agree with them telling us ‘Don’t doze off,’ like we’re children or something.”

It seems like the most effective way to avoid having people tell you “Don’t doze off” would be to not doze off in the first place, but apparently that’s too complex a strategy for that councilperson.

Several Twitter commenters, though, are of the opinion that treating the offending council members like misbehaving children is entirely warranted.

“I think even schoolkids could come up with better excuses than the council members did.”

“They’re less mature than actual children. Take naps during work at a regular job, and they’ll can you.”

“Absolutely no sense of responsibility. When I think about how our tax money goes to pay their salaries, it makes me want to flush them down the drain.”

“If you’re going to be that lazy, then just resign already.”

“How about this: In exchange for a 100-yen donation to the city, you get to chuck an eraser at a city council member who’s fallen asleep [like teachers do to kids who sleep in class in anime and manga].”

That last one sounds like it could be a real revenue driver for the Ichikawa, but it doesn’t sound like the city is ready to enact such a program just yet. With the council’s next session scheduled to start next month, though Still, it would probably be a good idea for every member on the council to catch up on sleep before their next batch of plenary sessions begins next month.

Source: NHKFNN Prime OnlineTwitter

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40 Comments
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Reminds me of an 8am class at University. Doubt I was fooling anyone. The drooling didn't help my cleaver plan, I'm certain.

Some countries have Govt representative talking heads giving passionate speeches to empty 500 seat rooms as a way to get dumb things read into the "official record." https://rollcall.com/2021/10/07/why-is-congress-grandstanding/ It is about having the video to use in future elections, so nothing constructive.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

So they are being paid to sit and listen but get angry if people demand them to be awake?

Put them into a few hours every day for a week doing physical labor on the street and see if that doesn't solve the problem.

12 ( +15 / -3 )

I don’t agree with them telling us ‘Don’t doze off,’ like we’re children or something.”

Dont act like a child and you wont be treated as one!

15 ( +16 / -1 )

They only sleep becasue they work so gosh darn hard. Give these pillars of society a break.

-8 ( +3 / -11 )

I think the camera should linger a bit longer on the sleeping faces, especially if drooling or snorting is involved. Pay should be docked, rounded up to the nearest day, for time spent asleep or reading (and not even pretending to care).

very steal

Yes, they are.

*I think it is a very god thing for people to be able to visually check on the council members using their devices*.

Are you...a god?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

If the people talking get to the point without the extensive preamble might not have a dozy audience. I’ve had company meetings where some old guy starts talking, I excuse myself under the guise of a toilet break, go down stairs get a hamburger a can of mixed drink. Go back and he still hasn’t made his point! Meetings in Japan are endless.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Do the same in the national Diet, and recall these folks to face their constituents. They get paid too much to be literally sleeping on the job.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Good !!..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Debating should be taught at schools, make your point wait for a rebuttal. React with manners. Best argument wins. Shouldn’t take hours.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

japan culture is based on TATEMAE, you just pretend you work, you just pretend you live.... NOTHING WILL CHANGE!

-15 ( +6 / -21 )

Keep in mind that many of the special interest groups supporting these politicians don't mind this in the least. In other words, they prefer sleeping politicians to those who would change or even slightly alter the status quo. Moreover, as long as 50% of voters in Japan continue to not vote, why should politicians care? They get paid to do nothing and their supporters get what they want. A shame this is a "win-win" here in Japan (and most of the world for that matter).

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

I wouldn't mind this type of job, getting paid handsomely for dozing

5 ( +6 / -1 )

This is both hilarious and sad at the same time.

Hilarious because it’s something everyone already knew already, but only now being proven. These old fools just come to work to take naps, and are finally being called on it.

That happens in so many work places here. Some of

them you look at and just go, why are they on payroll again?

It’s sad, because the very things they LOVE to do, the pointless, counter productive meetings, are the very thing that wastes the most time during the day.

And now these morons are getting all fussy because people are angry that they aren’t doing their jobs. Yet those same people, elected those jokers.

Here are some solutions, first, shorten any meeting and get straight to the point. Never mind the useless drivel and speeches that no one wants to hear. Second, get these dinosaurs out into the public. Have them actually see how regular people work and slave during the week. Third, just get rid of

these dinosaurs, period. Bring in new faces and new ideas.

but overall, keep recording these meetings and posting them to

youtube. In fact, do it in ever city council, everywhere. So we can See what tax dollars are paying for.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Looks like a perfect picture for the ad campaign of their next election opponent. The problem though is that many elected officials have no opponent when election season comes around.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

They are NOT sleeping, they are bored, sick and tired of long meaningless meeting. I use to attend some and the speeches will go on for ever repeating the same thing twice in many cases.

Just go to any of these meetings and you will be as bored as HELL.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

It's a rumor that the former PM Nakasone was often sleeping during Diet sessions with his eyes open.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

GodanToday  08:31 am JST,

I totally agree!

-11 ( +1 / -12 )

 nation of dozers  LOL!!

-11 ( +6 / -17 )

Awesome idea - now how about some spotlight on all the LDP oyajis sleeping in the Diet constantly?

Oh, but they are just closing their eyes so they can better focus on what is being discussed as venerable Taro Aso once proclaimed. LOL. Absolutely useless.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Debating should be taught at schools, make your point wait for a rebuttal. React with manners. Best argument wins. Shouldn’t take hours.

Forget about it. Schools are the same pretty much the same anywhere. They teach you how to calculate the factorial of a number but not how to walk in the streets (traffic rules, the meaning of street signs), how the government works, what does a senator do, etc... this is deliberate to prevent everyone of becoming too conscious and sentient as the world would fall apart if everyone was "smart".

5 ( +8 / -3 )

@Finally rich, watching and participating in debates was probably, without doubt the most educational thing I had. I continue to be surprised as you say with the base and needless rote Japanese system of education. It’s not a mystery why people fall asleep, the way things are done is pointless. Some old guy will talk and everyone at the end will wake up and clap. Nobody can say wait a minute? That’s wrong.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

If politicians sleep during meetings and parliament they can do less damage.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Funny, they had a tv drama series about this a while back starring Ryoko Shinohara where she was first desperate to get the job as a municipal official because of the good pay, but as she began her campaign she really wanted to help the people. She then realized when she got the job that everyone was sleeping on the job and not really doing anything.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Yes, this is my experience of meetings in Japan. They seem aimless, meandering, and inconclusive with few if any decisions made and people holding in high levels of irritation and boredom (gaman!). Does anyone know why?!

My guess would be the deep fear of getting attention and/or making mistakes in front of others, and this applies to the simplest things, like when I used to work part time in a moving company.

Whenever a problem came up (which angle to move a fridge through a narrow doorway) and the "senpai" was not around, these 4 to 8 people would completely stop functioning, heads tilting, teeth sucking, floor staring, I cant count the number of times I (the gaijin!) had to clap my hands to offer an idea and get these people moving, everyone was afraid of saying something.

-6 ( +4 / -10 )

A brilliant idea, I dont know how much they get paid in japan but in the UK its also a BIG problem as they get paid a lot of money on a daily basis. After an initial warning they should lose their jobs, the next time that they fall a sleep.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Abe and Aso were NOTORIOUS for sleeping in the Diet, so I don't know why this is a big deal. Maybe they're trying to demonstrate solidarity with the 2 snoozing PMs..

-4 ( +6 / -10 )

Japanese companies are notorious for having so many useless meetings. I always suspected it was so some of them could get some shuteye. I've seen it before. They actually claimed that they weren't sleeping that they were thinking with their eyes closed. Of course when you're the manager, nobody can say boo.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

To be fair, wearing masks for extended periods restricts the human bodies natural respiratory process and can lead to lack of energy, drowsiness, poor concentration….and sleep.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I think it is a very god thing

No, sleep monitoring is more reflective of Santa...he also knows if you’ve been bad or good, which is difficult for poliiticians.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If politicians sleep during meetings and parliament they can do less damage.

I WISH that was true wallace. Abe was frequently asleep alongside Aso in the Diet and he did an incredible amount of damage

this is deliberate to prevent everyone of becoming too conscious and sentient as the world would fall apart if everyone was "smart".

agree 100%. Let's not forget where the Mombusho or Education Ministry was staffed by at the end of the war. The Kempeitai and Toko- the Japanese Gestapo and the Thought Police.

But remember, its not just the schools and the education system- its also the television. NHK is constantly bombarding people with stupid programmes about some gennojin going to an Onsen and sitting down to a meal which is explained to you in painstaking detail for about 20 minutes until the gennojin takes a bite and then growls "UMAI" or squeals "OISHI" depending on the gender, and then for the next 30 minutes they spend time talking about that one morsel.

Nothing serious is ever discussed or debated. Promotion is based on seniority NOT on merit, and politicians do not address the problems and challenges Japan faces-instead choosing to kick the can down the road for future generations to fix. And people are upset or surprised that politicians in Ichikawa are sleeping??

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

Perhaps if people just got to the point in meetings instead of droning on, the problem could be almost eliminated.

But we all know that's not going to happen.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Many people shut their eyes in order to concentrate better. Closed eyes do not mean they are asleep.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Can I just stop paying tax?

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Stephen ChinToday  04:30 pm JST

Many people shut their eyes in order to concentrate better. Closed eyes do not mean they are asleep.

Yeah for like 5 seconds not for over 3 minutes. If your eyes are closed for so long, you're sleeping.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

It's always a good idea to give lazy politicians a "wake-up call" of any description.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'd like to propose this to my city council, too.

Many people shut their eyes in order to concentrate better. Closed eyes do not mean they are asleep.

It is not the eyes, it is the slack jaws and the drooling that are the give-aways.

This should be the norm everywhere after all its the taxpayer who pays their wages the need to be held accountable at all times..

I agree, broadcasting on youtube or something similar should be the norm. However, droll speeches and sleeping should not be the norm.

NHK is constantly bombarding people with stupid programmes about some gennojin going to an Onsen and sitting down to a meal which is explained to you in painstaking detail for about 20 minutes until the gennojin takes a bite and then growls "UMAI" or squeals "OISHI" depending on the gender, and then for the next 30 minutes they spend time talking about that one morsel.

Yup, and the NHK police are breathing down peoples' necks trying to make sure everyone with a television pays the NHK fee "tax" to continue to bombard stupid programs.

A brilliant idea, I dont know how much they get paid in japan but in the UK its also a BIG problem as they get paid a lot of money on a daily basis. After an initial warning they should lose their jobs, the next time that they fall a sleep.

Then again, if their drooling face photos are used by the opposition in the next political campaign, they could find their jobs gone.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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