Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Election Day in Japan

Before I start this story, there's an oddity about the ex-patriot community here I should explain. Namely there are no conservatives here. None. There are none in Oita, none in Gifu, none in Sapporo. In my 3 years plus here in Japan I've only meet one conservative I can think of.

Some of you may be thinking, "That's just Joel's liberal bias", or "He's just hanging out with the wrong people". But I assure you it is not I alone who have made this observation. Several other American ex-patriots have observed to me, "There's so many Bush supporters back home, how come we never run into any of them here in Japan?" Even Japanese friends have occasionally commented, "The news reports say Bush is very popular, but how come every American I meet hates him so much?"

Now as to why this is I can't really say. The ex-patriot community, or at least the English teaching ex-patriot community, is almost entirely composed of people in their 20s, and as an age demographic that is obviously pre-dominantly liberal. Also in order to get into many of the English teacher programs a University degree is required, and statistically people with higher education degrees tend to be proportionately more liberal than the population as a whole.

But of course there are plenty of college educated young conservatives, and indeed I knew many of them at Calvin College. Why do none of them seem to end up in Japan?

It is a question we Americans here in Japan have often pondered among ourselves. The usually answer is that conservatives are very small minded and so don't tend to want to travel outside of their own counry. Or, as a cororlary, any one who does a lot of travelling can not help but become more liberal as they are exposed to different view points outside of the American media.

I imagine this is an answer which would infuriate many of my conservative friends back home, but in the absence of any conservatives to refute it over here, it has become a sort of conventional wisdom.

And I will confess to believing it as well. I say this at the risk of making my conservative friends angry, but also with the knowledge that they probably expected me to say something like this anyway.

However if anyone else has any thoughts on the matter (whether you've been to Japan or not) feel free to post a comment on this blog or send me an e-mail and I'll try and give all view points a fair shake.

Right, the point of that all that is this: in Japan, among the expatriots, it is assumed you hate Bush. You don't even need to feel people out over here, you can just start into an anti-Bush tirade and all people will say is, "Amen brother," or "Tell me about it."

November 3rd in Japan is a public holiday, so we all had the day off. Since Wednesday morning here is Tuesday night in the states, someone who had sattelite hosted an election party to watch the results come in.

I heard about the party through the grape vine. I'm still new here and don't know a lot of people, but I knew before I even showed up that everyone would be for Kerry. And I was not disappointed.

At the time of this writing the election results are still not final, but we spent most of the day at the party glued to the TV and munching snacks. It was a fun social occasion, despite the results.

We were all pretty lively and excited in the morning. As the afternoon dragged on the mood became sluggish and depressed, but I'm not sure if that was because of the disappointing results or because of the zombifying effect of watching TV all day. People were definately feeling very down at the end of the day. Myself certainly among them.

I save my thoughts on the actual election itself for another post though.

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