Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an
election if he is backed by the political giant Prime Minister
Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party? This cinema-verite
documentary closely follows a heated election campaign in Kawasaki,
Japan, revealing the true nature of "democracy."
In the fall of 2005, 40-year-old, self-employed Kazuhiko "Yama-san"
Yamauchi's peaceful, humdrum life was turned upside-down. Japanese
Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had
suddenly chosen him as its official candidate to run for a vacant
seat on the Kawasaki city council. Yama-san had zero experience in
politics, no charisma, no supporters, no constituency, and no time to
prepare for the impending election.
The election was critical for the LDP. Yama-san's loss would
automatically oust the LDP from its position as the dominant
political party on the council. Thus, the LDP forms a strong campaign
team consisting of every LDP politician from the Kawasaki region to
fight the intense battle against the party's opponents—all veterans
of the Democratic Party, the Communist Party, and the Kanagawa
Network. The campaign team invites many of the LDP's political big
shots—Nobuteru Ishihara, Yoriko Kawaguchi, and even Prime Minister
Koizumi himself—to back its inexperienced candidate—a rare sight
for an election in a politically insignificant suburban town.
Adhering to the campaign tactic of "bowing to everybody, even to
telephone poles," Yama-san visits local festivals, kindergarten
sports events, senior gatherings, commuter train stations, and even
bus stops to offer his hand to every one he sees.