Ryokichi Kawashima, 94 years old, decided to register as an independent candidate in Japan’s parliamentary election. He used Y3 million ($36,400) from his personal funds saved for his funeral, and with only three hours before the deadline he registered himself on the candidates list.
“It occurred to me when I watched a TV debate between the major parties. I just couldn’t stand how fragmented and disorganized they have become. They have no grip on reality”, he said.
He admits he does not have too many chances to win against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). LDP seems to be the favorite in this election, analysts say.
But Kawashima represents the most debated and fastest growing category of the Japanese society: the elderly.
A quarter of Japan’s population is aged 65 or more and the country has aged at a record level over the last 30 years. But Kawashima’s political campaign is not focused on the older population’s rights. Instead, Kawashima militates against nationalist policies and nuclear power use.
He decided to run for the election after a family gathering attended by his daughter, 62, and three younger relatives: two brothers aged 85 and 76, and a little sister who has just turned 80.
Kawashima is a widower and lives alone, taking care of himself. His driving license is valid for three more years, he only needs a stick to help him walk, and he does not use spectacles.