Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Re-election of Tokyo Governor linked to art exhibit

Shintaro Ishihara's 8 year governorship has been marked by a belligerence which has angered several groups, including school teachers, the French and women.

This week saw him re-elected for a third successive term. Some are attributing this outcome to the unexpected effects of an art exhibit at the Mori art museum. It features two collections of related themes: “The Smile in Japanese Art: From the Jomon Period to the Early Twentieth Century” and “All about Laughter: Humour in Contemporary Art”.

Since the exhibit opened on January 7th, local newspapers have reported a noticeable sense of well-being permeating the visitors hall as people are leaving. Remarked one museum attendant speaking on condition of anonymity "There is a big difference in how people leave from when they arrive. They are buzzing with energy, look happy and talk to people they don't know. They don't even look at other people when they're waiting to get into the exhibit."

The total number of people estimated to have seen the exhibit since it opened is almost double the margin Shintaro Ishihara secured over his rival Shiro Asano.
If the effect is true, it suggests that exposure to the exhibit has a profound impact on the well-being of visitors, one that lasts many months. It also suggests an interesting new development in the political arsenal of election time tactics.

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