I’ve just watched an extraordinary film on this evening’s Newsnight about a by-election candidate in Japan. He basically spends the entire campaign – which he has to pay for entirely out of his own pocket – being abused by his Sensei (basically, the party elders), having his wife told she should give up her career and become his trophy housewife and generally being treated like dirt. In one particularly spectacular act of petty bullying, they don’t even permit him to meet Junichiro Koizumi who has come to help his campaign.
It’s quite clear that the feudal mind-set is still alive and well in Japanese politics, even if the economic system has moved on. And however problematic our own system of politics is, at least it isn’t quite the pantomime of casual abuse that we see in this film.