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Politician Dressed Like The Joker Is Campaigning In Japan

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Screenshot: NHK/Yuusuke Kawai@YouTube

Meet Yuusuke Kawai. He is running for governor of Chiba Prefecture and recently appeared on NHK to present his platform. It looks as though he wants Japan to put on a happy face.

While Kawai certainly isn’t pulling off a perfect Joker cosplay, his make-up and outfit certainly look like the Joaquin Phoenix version, complete with a burgundy jacket and mustard hanky, seeming to reference the character’s vest. Although Kawai might be avoiding too much similarity for good reason: Last year, for example, one candidate dressed up like Lelouch from Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion. He later got called out by the anime company, Sunrise, and apologized.


At the beginning of his NHK speech, Kawai told viewers to press record and share it on YouTube and TikTok.

As Hachima Kikou notes, Kawai’s platform included the following:

  • Build a red tower, like Tokyo Tower in Chiba, but name it Tokyo Tower (his reasoning is that Tokyo Disneyland is not actually located in Tokyo, but Chiba—payback, I guess!)
  • Rename Narita Airport, which is located in Chiba, as Disney Sky
  • Make “Let It Go” from Frozen Chiba’s theme song
  • Outlaw the word “trash” in Chiba and replace it with the words “star fragment”
  • Refer to the rabble-rousers, for which Chiba is known, by the cuter sounding “Olaf”
  • Rename Makuhari Station as “Makuhari Messe Isn’t Here Station”

During his speech, Kawai did address the anti-maskers in Tokyo, alluding to the protest slogan, “the novel coronavirus is just a cold.” Said Kawai, “Just getting colds is not pleasant.” Continuing, he explained that now that it’s spring, seasonal allergies are problematic and masks can prevent them, adding that some people like wearing masks to cover their faces.


Kawai was interviewed by Tokyo Sports, who asked him about the clown make-up. “Since the clown is kind of a dark hero, I had this impression that I could get the support of the masses.”

A few years ago, Kawai quit his job and tried to enter the Japanese entertainment industry as a comedian. He wasn’t able to get his big TV break, so he turned to YouTube, underscoring the performative, stunt-like quality of his campaign. He recently released a music video called, “It’s Show Time.”

“I’m going to aim for laughs,” he told Tokyo Sports about his televised political speech. “Even if talked about my true self, it wouldn’t be news.”

In Japanese politics, there are sometimes candidates who don’t exactly seem serious—or like serious contenders. Rather, they appear in it for the spectacle and publicity. But ridiculous platform aside, at least Kawai seems pro-mask. Pro clown make-up, too.