Japanese Politician Suspends Animal Crossing Campaign

Screenshot: ANNnewsCH

Shigeru Ishiba, Japan’s former Defense Minister, is in the running to become the country’s next Prime Minister. This weekend, his campaign announced its plans to come to Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

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According to Jiji, Ishiba’s campaign then decided to suspend activities in New Horizons that same day before they even got off the ground. Originally, Ishiba’s plans were to campaign in Animal Crossing starting this Tuesday, when campaigning officially begins. The concern is now that Ishiba’s campaign would be violating Nintendo’s local terms of use regarding in-game political activity.

Nintendo’s Japanese terms of use seem to prohibit in-game political activity, stating that user-generated content that contains “political advocacy” (政治的な主張 or seijitekina shuchou) is not permitted. As far as I can tell, however, this same prohibition does not seem to appear in Nintendo of America’s terms of use.

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Ishiba is in the race with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida to lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the wake of Shinzo Abe’s decision to step down, reports Mainichi.

In-game, Ishiba was scheduled to appear as “Ishiba-chan” and would visit players who put up his poster. Jiji adds that an island called “Jiminto,” a homophone for the abbreviation of his political party, was also going to appear in New Horizons.

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Since launch, activists have used Animal Crossing: New Horizons to make their voices heard. For example, in April, Hong Kong protesters created pro-democracy art, while the Black Lives Matter movement also used New Horizons to protest systematic racism and the ongoing extrajudicial killings of Black people in the United States. The game has also been a place that queer players can express themselves.

More recently, Joe Biden’s campaign announced it was releasing “Team Joe”, a “Joe” pride logo as well as “Biden Harris” signs in-game.

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While Ishiba has suspended his Animal Crossing campaign, for the time being, Nintendo is looking into the matter. “Currently, we are reviewing this internally,” Nintendo tells IT Media, “and at this point, cannot comment.”

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Originally from Texas, Ashcraft has called Osaka home since 2001. He has authored six books, including most recently, The Japanese Sake Bible.

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