What chances do a virtual stranger have of winning a political election campaign? In Japan this was put to the test in 2005, when the Liberal Democratic Party chose a complete unknown man as their candidate for the seat on the Kawasaki City Council. This film follows the campaign up-close.



Can a candidate with no political experience and no charisma win an election when the political giant Prime Minister Koizumi and his Liberal Democratic Party back him? In the fall of 2005, 40-year-old, self-employed Kazuhiko “Yama-san” Yamauchi’s peaceful, humdrum life was turned upside-down. Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) had chosen him at the last moment as its official candidate to run for a vacant seat on the Kawasaki City Council.

Yama-san had zero experience in politics, no charisma, no supporters, no constituency, and one week to prepare for the impending election. The election was critical for the LDP: Yama-san’s loss would automatically oust the LDP from its position as the dominant political party on the council. Adhering to the campaign tactic of “bowing to everybody, even to telephone poles,”

Yama-san visits local festivals, senior gatherings, commuter train stations, and even bus stops
to offer his hand to every one he sees. Can Yama-san win this heated race? In Campaign! The Kawasaki Candidate, canvassing for a single seat in the city council becomes a microcosm of Japanese democracy.

This film is a part of the documentary series Why Democracy? – 10 Films from independent award-winning filmmakers in China, India, Japan, Pakistan, Liberia, Egypt, Denmark, Russia, Bolivia and the USA.

The Why Democracy? series:

Egypt We are Watching You

For God, Tsar and Fatherland

In Search of Ghandi

Iron Ladies of Liberia

Looking for the Revolution

Please Vote for Me

Director & Producer Kazuhiro Soda
Produced by Steps International in cooperation with DR, SBS, RTBF, Canal Futura, CBC, Knowledge Network, HRT, Czech TV, ETV, YLE, ARTE, MDR, WDR, ZDF, ORF, ERT, MTV Hungary, PSBT, IBA, NHK, LTV, La Red, VPRO, NRK, RTP, TVP, TVR, RTVSLO, SABC, Canal + Spain, SVT, TSR/SSR, PTS, Al Arabiya, PBS & BBC
Duration 52 & 120 min.
Year of Production 2007
Original Title Campaign!