politics

Feisty 94-year-old runs for office using money saved for funeral

40 Comments
By Jessica Ocheltree

Usually when you hear about a fresh-faced new voice in politics, it’s usually, well, a fresh face. Not so much with Ryukichi Kawashima, who is running for office for the first time at the ripe old age of 94.

Kawashima is running to represent Saitama Prefecture’s 12th District and is the oldest candidate out of the 1,504 people running in the current election. He had been putting aside money from his pension to use for his own funeral expenses, but decided the 3 million yen would be better spent as an election fund. Deep concern over the future of the country motivated him to run, he says. “I thought it was time I did something.”

Although he’s edging up on the century mark, Kawashima still boasts sharp eyesight and an even sharper mind. Despite originally having no intention whatsoever of becoming a politician, Kawashima, an independent, found himself frustrated as he listened to the policies of the political parties.

“Listening to rightist politicians like Abe and Ishihara, the word “military” keeps popping up. Hashimoto is also completely unreasonable. We surrendered unconditionally after the war! I began to worry what would become of Japan,” he says, speaking in his rapid-fire way.

Born in 1918 at the close of the First World War, Kawashima was just old enough to be conscripted in World War II. He fought in China, losing many of his comrades over his seven-year stint there. “Of course, I’m happy that I didn’t die in the war,” he says, “But at the same time, I feel guilty towards all my friends who did.”

The responsibility he feels towards those lost men is what convinced him to run for office. At the end of last month, he gathered his relatives at his house and announced his candidacy. Although some of them were initially against the idea, he won them over with his passion. “It would be nice to have the help of my friends too, but they’ve all passed away already,” he comments.

Over the years, Kawashima worked in many fields, from kitchen stove sales to securities and bonds trading. Now retired, he lives by himself in Saitama’s Hanyu City. His back is still straight and his gait strong, and thanks to his training in the army, he can cook and clean for himself.

Saitama’s 12th District is likely to be a hotly contested battle, with several major party candidates making strong bids, but that doesn’t discourage the aged politician. “I don’t honestly expect to win,” he says, “but I want to try.”

Kawashima’s platform includes adherence to Article 9, an end to nuclear power, and an increased leadership role for the emperor. His entry to the race is a bit late, but he’s already hard at work producing flyers and posters for his campaign, and he has plans to make some street-corner speeches as well.

Despite his age and lack of political experience, nothing is going to stop Kawashima from giving it his best shot, “A real man, he does what he’s gotta do.”

Source: Yomiuri Online

Read more stories on RocketNews24. -- No Voice for the Poor: 77,000 US Dollars Just to Stand for Election in Japan -- TV Blunder Labels Japan’s Potential Next Prime Minister a Pervert -- Housewives: Why Carefully Managing Your Husband’s Money Leads To A Happier Home

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40 Comments
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He had been putting aside money from his pension to use for his own funeral expenses, but decided the 3 million yen would be better spent as an election fund.

so now who will pay for his funeral because he is (most) likely to lose deposit money?

-11 ( +2 / -13 )

good for him!

20 ( +20 / -0 )

“Of course, I’m happy that I didn’t die in the war,” he says, “But at the same time, I feel guilty towards all my friends who did."

But no feelings of guilt for all the Chinese slaughtered for the glory of Japan ?

-21 ( +4 / -25 )

“Listening to rightist politicians like Abe and Ishihara, the word “military” keeps popping up. Hashimoto is also completely unreasonable. We surrendered unconditionally after the war! I began to worry what would become of Japan,” he says, speaking in his rapid-fire way.

This guy needs a bigger platform.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

so now who will pay for his funeral because he is (most) likely to lose deposit money?

So instead of having a huge funeral he will have a smaller one. So what? It's his money, and odds are he's got more stashed away to cover the costs of a cremation.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

We surrendered unconditionally after the war! I began to worry what would become of Japan,” he says, speaking in his rapid-fire way.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

He's way too old for holding office.

0 ( +6 / -6 )

I highly doubt he'll get elected but good for him for wanting to change Japan!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

He's way too old for holding office.

That is what is known as ageism. There are plenty of young politicians that are 'too old to hold office'. If he gets elected, he deserves the chance to give it a go.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

The old fella should channel his enthusiasm into drumming up support among old folks for a younger candidate who has a far better chance of winning. The older generations are, after all, the ones who get off their arses to vote, unlike the hoards of apathetic youngsters who should care more.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

With all due respect to his courage and determination to take a stand at his age, two of his remarks strike me as rather troubling: Expression of guilt only towards his war buddies who died during battle and none towards his enemies and civilian victims and his suggestion to increase the leadership role of the emperor. Maybe taking his brief comments out of context but the latter in particular appears to be even more radical than any of the hawkish politicians he is criticizing.

-4 ( +7 / -11 )

allswell in Japan be careful, I expressed the same sentiment and got thumbs down all the way !

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

He was in the war! and if you guys dont know, war is war, its kill or be killed, and im sure he saw the tradegy of both sides of that war, he was a soldier obeying orders, and i think he said he was pratically drafted into war, so not much he really could do anyways. But unfortunitally i think he waited too long to try and make a real difference, this guy could croak any day (no offense) :/ Not to mention the whole dec 21st thing if we make it through that lol

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Good luck to him, but probably a little oblivious to the political games and money it takes to get elected..

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Wonderful....With age comes wisdom....we need more mature candidates like him in America.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Good. Stir up the political scene, making more headlines like this, so that people would think hard WHY,starting to doubt all the bullshits on TV and big newspapers.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

to cover the costs of a cremation.

They are free in japan

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

This guy has seen and experienced more than most. Hopefully, it's shaped his perspective well. I certainly think he can't be worse than most career politicians.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

They are free in japan

Not everywhere.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Really? Where? I'm curious. I have been to a million funerals in kansai. It would be logical since you can't bury a body here generally.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

..With age comes wisdom....we need more mature candidates like him in America

.

Agreed. Someone wrote a book about the advantages of an aging society.in the USA I'm thinking about the republican running mates recently.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Love this story! Good for him for giving it a shot, and all the best of luck!

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Look's like my dad who is Mayor of Bolckow, MO. Who is 75, born in 1937 I beleive, also president of VFW, City Inspector to all Construction, and Sheriff, alot for an old guy, but it's an elected job...and he sure hasn't lost his wit's..."The show me state."....He live's it!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Really? Where? I'm curious.

Some municipalities in Japan cover the costs, others do not. The fees vary depending on the area ranging between several thousand yen and over tens of thousands of yen.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Got it. But if you have no access to money it's just picked up by tax. The family is supposed to tip the cremation operator.where I am there is no basic cost.

Hope this guy does well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe his dogged determination to take a stand at his age will inspire others to get more involved.

If his action raises the level of the public dialog and debate, then he will have accomplished something worthwhile.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

and an increased leadership role for the emperor.

Because that worked so well the first time. The last thing this country needs is someone who is "entitled" to power.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bravo ! I don't support every line of his program, but he has the guts to run... If that could inspire people 1/3 of his age !

so now who will pay for his funeral because he is (most) likely to lose deposit money?

You never have much fun at your own funeral, so why would he care ?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Wonderful guy!

He could be in a home, tanked up with tranquillisers, waiting to die, but he isn't. Aware of what is going on and Abe and the wrecking crew about to push his country under the waves, he gets up and says his piece.

This guy is not an apathetic sheepish follower.

He speaks.

And his voice has been heard.

Listening to rightist politicians like Abe and Ishihara, the word “military” keeps popping up. Hashimoto is also completely unreasonable. We surrendered unconditionally after the war! I began to worry what would become of Japan,” he says, speaking in his rapid-fire way.

Superb!

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Either he could make it or not, Here is something we can learn from his motivation. Age is big excuse to make myself give up something I can't achieve. Aside from achievement, challenge is the most important word in my life. I like it!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Bertie San

Very well said.I am a die-hard fan of your posts and I do not understand why did you get thumb down for almost every posts. Injustice!!! By the way, is there any age limit for becoming representative of Okinawa? If they have, it is a discrimination.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

it costs 3 million yen to run? Wow that is expensive. Thats a year's pay!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it costs 3 million yen to run? Wow that is expensive. Thats a year's pay!

No, it's the cheapest. This man is special as he says the goal is only to get his voice heard. Usually there is no point in running for MP if you can find something like 5000 supporters willing to participate for a few man yen and some hours of their time. To win, you need to convince many more. That's odd if you're the only voting for yourself.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Correction : "if you cannot find supporters..."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I usually rail against the fact that Japanese politics is ruled by aging, narrow-minded bureaucrats. But I have nothing but love for this old guy! Yes, he is likely way too old for this position, which can be incredibly physically demanding. But just somebody putting their money where their mouth is and speaking out against the idiocy we see in politics today is a bold statement in itself. I would love to see more of this in Japan!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Three MILLION yen for a cremation? That's ridiculous. And, moshiwake, Zichi-san, I can't agree with you that simply on age this guy should do nothing. If he had 2-4 more productive years, he might leave a legacy that helps move Saitama and Japan forward. As opposed to what most of the current crop of gits are likely to achieve in the near future...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nathaw-san,

Very well said.I am a die-hard fan of your posts and I do not understand why did you get thumb down for almost every posts. Injustice!!! By the way, is there any age limit for becoming representative of Okinawa? If they have, it is a discrimination.

Thank you very much!

You encourage me.

But I notice that you got a thumb down for yours, too! :)

In answer to your question, I have no idea if there is any age limit for representing Okinawa. I doubt that there would be. Okinawa is quite famous for the longevity of its citizens as I'm sure you know.

So I'm sure there would be plenty of older people to stand for election here.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

****He gets my vote.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wonderful....With age comes wisdom....we need more mature candidates like him in America.

Huh? So I guess you would call Ishihara Shintaro wise too right? Heck he's in his 80's and with more "wise" guys like him Japan would be headed in WW3.

Age is no garuntee of wisdom, not by a long shot. However age should not be used against him IF he is healthy, both mentally and physically.

The US needs more "mature" candidates no matter their age! Japan too!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Feisty". Why "feisty"? Can't an old person do anything showing some spirit without being labelled with this hackneyed phrase? Rather demeaning, I think.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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