The Power of Artistic Acts: A Case Of Yohei Miyake’s Election In Japan, The Election Campaign Done In The Most Artistic, Fashionable and Underground Way Possible


Highly unexpected, extraordinarily artistic and poignant events sometimes liberate people from repressed situation. Sometimes artistic acts reveal how people unconsciously self-regulate and mindlessly accept repressing status quo. And it ends up hardening the already rigid view of the reality. It often takes extraordinary courage and action to breakthrough the firm situation.

In Japan, recently Yohei Miyake, a candidate from Greens Japan, did something extraordinary. In July, he utilized an Upper House election to pull out a major political and artistic act in the national scale and it ended up being a movement. He used music to the fullest, and sent out political messages mainly about environmental concerns and world peace artistically and he even weaved some spirituality into it. His decision to put aside his music career to run for election was out of a strong sense of crisis he had since 3.11 nuclear disaster in Japan. His determination, courage, strong will, consistency in his words and actions and sophisticated messages moved many people.

He defined the election as “festival” and brought up a bunch of his fellow musicians from underground music scene and toured all over Japan during the election campaign. He used the network that he built all over Japan through his music career in the last 15 years. He called his campaign “Election Fest,” used it to promote democracy and participation in the politics. It succeeded in getting attention from wide demographics including the so-called most apathetic, or desperate young generation who never were able to expect anything from the politicians.

He didn’t wear a suit, didn’t shave, didn’t even wear shoes on the stage sometimes. He wore shorts and T-shirt and a green cap. He refused to be a preexisting someone in order to be consistent with his belief which respects diversity. If the politicians reflect the diversity, it shouldn’t be such a big deal if a politician don’t wear a suit.

His election campaign was one of the lowest budget campaign supported by donation and a couple of thousand of volunteers.

He was bluntly honest and had intelligence to back up his points. And he had an excellent communication skill. He said many things that typical politicians don’t dare to say. His contested grounds were the world peace and environmental issues especially regarding the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis and 400 nuclear power plants in the world. These are serious concerns shared by many in Japan.

Throughout the campaign, he kept bringing up the repressed issues on the table, showed people how to face and deal with those issues, and ended up changing the conversation and atmosphere. Even though he didn’t win, he got 17,6970 votes which was 26th place among 162 candidates. There were 48 seats. But the current system didn’t allow him to win a seat.

What was played out seemed like a revolution, a movement, a shift of age, or an epic joke. It probably was a little bit of everything. Mr. Miyake somehow managed to leave a texture and iconic impression in Japan, and he is not stopping.

Followings videos are some of the musicians who played at the “election fest” to support Yohei Miyake.


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