I’ve had it with my wife’s political beliefs. That’s it; we’re getting a divorce. As some of you may not know, Japan just had a "snap election." What’s a snap election? I don’t know. But they have them all the time here and that’s what they call them. I don’t mind saying that I don’t like it not one little bit. No sirree, I don’t.
You see, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi threatened that he’d dissolve parliament if they didn’t pass his reform of the Japanese National Postal Banking System. The Japanese Postal Banking System, even though it is not a bank, is the world’s biggest bank (This would make perfect sense to you if you have ever been in Japan). The Japanese National Postal Banking System dwarfs other banking companies like Citigroup and those other loser fly-by-night organizations you folks have to deal with in the United States.
Anyway, Koizumi doesn’t get his way, so he dissolves the government and calls an election. This really ticks me off as I was happy with the government being dissolved and staying that way. But what really gets my dander up is that, in Japan, an election means that my early mornings will be interrupted by white vans with pretty girls wearing white gloves driving around waving and blurting, "Thank you! Thank you!" through loudspeakers. Oh, do I hate that. But, as I am a foreigner in Japan, it would be a faux pas for me to ignore these pretty girls in their white gloves so I’m constantly bowing my head and waving back at them. "You’re welcome! It was nothing really." What are they thanking me for? I didn’t do anything. But who am I to be rude? I figure it must be because I’m a foreigner and I pay taxes, yet I cannot vote for any of these socialists or fascists they got running for government here. It’s not fair, I say. I pay taxes and all I get is a "thank you" — That’s the thanks I get!?
Just by looking at this guy, you can tell he gets my vote.
So, my wife tells me that I have to baby sit the kid while she’s out cavorting with various political parties and slipping them little pieces of red and blue paper. I mean to say, she wants me to baby sit while she gets to go out and vote. Well, I’ll not stand for it, I tell you. Why should I, the bread-winner in the family, have to sit around and change soiled diapers when my wife is out voting for people I don’t even know and they end up costing me money regardless of who she votes for? They cost me money and I don’t even get to vote for them? What kind of a deal is that?
Sure, I’m a fair guy. If the little woman wants to go down to the local Pachinko parlor and gamble away a few hundred dollars while I spend time with the kid, then that’s fine with me. But what’s this crap about voting for a bunch of losers that will cost me money? At least with gambling on pachinko, she has a 1/396.5 percent chance of getting her money back or even winning. But spending time and money on voting for a political party — and making me change dirty diapers while she does it? No way. These crooks are just going to cost us money up the ying-yang, whether we vote or not. I will not be a part of it — nor will I allow anyone living under my roof to be a part of it either.
I tell my wife, "No!" I add that she doesn’t know the policies of these clowns she’s going to vote for anyway, so what’s the point? My wife claims that since I’m just sitting around drinking as usual, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem for me to watch the kid for a few minutes. She then pulls out some fancy looking pamphlet for the New Neo Liberal What-whoozits Party of Japan and shows it to me.
"So this is who you’re going to vote for, eh?" I snicker.
"No!" comes the reply. "I’m not voting for them because I don’t like their policies. But at least they make a pamphlet explaining their policies."
"Wait a minute! Let me get this straight: You’re not voting for these guys because you don’t like their policies; and you know those policies because they made a pamphlet; but at least they made a pamphlet. Is that what you’re saying?"
"Yes." came her triumphant reply. (Whoever claimed that politics doesn’t make people crazy was a total nut-ball.)
"So you are going to vote for someone who didn’t make a pamphlet?" I squint my eyes in that sort of cute, but always confused, George W. Bush squint. "So, who are you voting for?"
"I can’t tell you that." She insists. "It’s my right as a citizen of a free nation to vote in secret."
"No way!" I yell. "You’re not making me baby sit so that you can go out and vote for someone who’s just going to raise my taxes!"
Now my wife is an extremely intelligent woman (and this conversation really did happen) — But when you stop to think about it — never mind the "Thank you’s" — I get taxed and still haven’t the right to vote for any political party unless the communists get elected.
Think about it: The guys who will raise my taxes even more than they are now say that they will allow for me to vote for them so that they can raise my taxes even more later on so that I will hate them and then want to vote them out — Yes, that was an extremely long run-on sentence but we are talking politics here (and it does make sense in a weird sort of Japanese political way). The commies say that if they win the elections that they will allow for all taxpayers to vote. I guess that’s fair: I suppose that if you are stupid enough to want to vote, that you should be stupid enough to want to give your money away. Power to the people!
But back to my wife; who does she want to vote for? Hell, I don’t know. Perhaps it is The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan? They are much different than the Japanese Democratic Liberals or the Liberal Democrats of Japan, or the Semi-Liberal Japanese Democrats; or even those fashionable J-Liberal-crats.
The discussion between my wife and I breaks down into a real domestic fight. I insist upon knowing who she plans to vote for before she votes or I will not allow her to leave this house. She claims I am sounding like a communist.
"Nonsense," I say! "I sound like a fascist! But that’s all beside the point." Our marriage and ten years of dedication are on the line. "Which is it baby, them or me? Which is it gonna be?" I give her the evil eye.
Finally, in desperation, my wife throws a different pamphlet on the table. It has a handsome guy on the front.
"So that’s him?" I roar. "That’s the man you’d throw our family away for is it, woooooman!?"
"No!" she lies. "I’m voting for him for your benefit! He’s a real man. He wants to reform the postal services. He’s not like you at all! He doesn’t care about having a job or eating or paying rent. He’s not a bit like you. You’re just a guy who always complains and writes negative stuff for a bunch of old hippies in Alabama."
"Blashphemy! Woman!" I shout. "What does this politician have that I don’t?"
My wife breaks down, "He has a platform; he wants to reform the postal service…" She sniffes, "…And, and… he’s a real man with a dream; a dream of what to do with other people’s money. Not like you: A guy who only worries about how to cheat the government on their taxes."
"But what about taxation without representation?" I plead.
"Spare me your 200 year-old-jingoism" she snorts. "I want to vote for this man because his communist party platform will allow foreigners to vote. I want to vote for him because a vote for him is a vote for you!"
Damn. She’s right. I am drunk. I hug her and tell her that I do love her and want her to be happy, so if she really wants to vote, then I’m with her all the way whatever way she wants to vote and waste her time…
I down my last triple shot of bourbon. I look at the Japanese Communist Party pamphlet. Its platform looks pretty good actually — the pamphlet is all shiny and everything. Damn! I’m sold on them right there. Heck, with all these snap elections going on if the commies ever did win, you just know we’d be having snap elections every other week — just like now — so it’d be just another excuse for me to get outta the house and, get drunk, and support my habit, er, I mean, my political party. It all works out in the wash: I get an excuse to leave the house and get drunk with my friends and my wife thinks I’m doing my civic duties. On top of that the commies think they get the tax money that I never pay anyway.
And so our argument ends. Peace returns to the Rogers’ household. The wife is happy that, even though the polling places are already closed, she wins the argument. I’m happy that I’m drunk already and that I didn’t have to change any dirty diapers.
Hey, in a free political process everyone is a winner!
Footnote: I don’t think it was actually The Communist Party of Japan that my wife was going to vote for but, ultimately, what difference does it make anyway?
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.