With 420 Votes, Japan Hemp Party Candidate is Smoked Out

With 420 Votes, Japan Hemp Party Candidate is Smoked Out

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Marijuana
Picture: シンジ之間道 / PIXTA(ピクスタ)
A crusader for legalized marijuana in Japan lost his bid for election in Fujisawa City - but he did it in the most poetic way possible.

The local elections have just concluded in Japan and on the local level, a wide range of parties and candidates ran and won. Friend of Unseen Japan Dr. Jeffrey Hall tweeted on this issue that bowled us over. Read on to get the dope on the Hemp Party’s loss in the Fujisawa City Council election, by a strangely poetic margin.

Campaigning Despite Long Odds

Despite severe criminalization of cannabis in Japan at the national level as a drug, there is a small but energetic movement advocating for its legalization. However, CBD, legalized since 2013, is a growing business.

The Hemp Party— in full, the Hemp and Yamamoto Tarō’s Party, led by the eponymous Yamamoto Tarō— advocates for legalization of cannabis use as a drug. The party put forth two candidates in the spring 2023 election– pro gaming coach Kizoku, the candidate in Fujisawa City, and Kamakura Tsuyoshi, owner of Okayama-based CBD dispensary SWAGLAB, who ran for a city council seat in Okayama City.

Kizoku’s campaign portrait, a simple, stark image in greens and whites, bore the slogan “I want to smoke it in Japan.” (Nihon de suitai).

Kizoku of the Japan Hemp Party
Kizoku’s campaign posters (via Twitter user @SWAGLABCBD1)

Gamer to Budding Politician

Kizoku– also known by his legal name of Nishi Kazuhiro– had a hard-hitting career as an esports player and coach, even clinching first place in the Asia Pacific division of Pro League Season 8. Rainbow Six resource Liquipedia notes that he was a coach for the first-person shooter game Rainbow Six: Siege.

However, in his aspiring political career in Fujisawa, he did not limit his platform to cannabis legalization. Kizoku also advocated for casino legalization, the advancement of esports, and advocacy for ADHD. Videos and photos posted to Twitter show Kizoku taking to Fujisawa streets with a megaphone to campaign among his would-be constituents, accompanied by the party mascot, an anthropomorphic hemp leaf.

On postings at its official website, the party encouraged early voting. That suggests that there were some voters who cast their ballots on 4/20, the traditional date marked by cannabis aficionados as “Weed Day” or “World Marijuana Day.”

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Other helpful posts on the party website demonstrated the correct manner in which to fill in a ballot. They also reminded prospective voters that their votes were an anonymous way to make a statement on this controversial issue.

Gone Up in Smoke

Other candidates rolled up a victory in Fujisawa. And yet in a strangely poetic turn of events, Kizoku lost, but with a vote count of 420.

Yes, 420. Yes, we know, and so does he.

Twitter post showing Kizoku getting exactly 420 votes
Via Twitter user @RasNobu420

For his part, Kizoku appears to be taking his loss in stride, and dare we say, high spirits. In a statement posted to his Twitter account, he conceded his loss with the following:

I may have lost, but in a shocker, I got a vote count fitting for World Marijuana Day 4/20, almost like the god of hemp was cheering me on.

This feels a bit like it was a fateful election campaign.

Again, to all those involved in the campaign, and to all who voted, thank you!

And to all the new council members who were elected, congratulations!

Kizoku's tweet on his loss
Source: Twitter

Time will tell whether the Hemp Party’s ambitious aims will bud into something more verdant that will take root in more than isolated municipalities, or if all of these efforts will once again go up in the proverbial smoke.

Sources

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Nyri Bakkalian

Dr. Nyri A. Bakkalian is an author, recovering academic, raconteur, and Your Favorite History Lesbian. Her PhD thesis focused on the Boshin War in the Tohoku region. She is the author of "Grey Dawn: A Tale of Abolition and Union" (Balance of Seven Press, 2020). She hosts Friday Night History on anchor.fm/fridaynighthistory and the secret to her success is Arabic coffee. She misses Sendai daily.

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