Kazuma Ieiri’s campaign trail began with a tweet. “I will run for the Tokyo governor election if this tweet gets retweeted 1,000 times,” the 35-year-old star entrepreneur posted on his Twitter account in December. It took only 30 minutes for him to gather enough support. Many celebrities, including famous entrepreneur Takafumi Horie, joined in. Mr. Ieiri, one of the youngest Tokyo governor candidates ever, hadn’t been involved in politics before his December tweet, but he’s drawn a following online over the years, especially after he became the youngest manager to list his company on JASDAQ when he was 29. While running several internet-service companies and restaurants, Mr. Ieiri has also been active on Twitter, occasionally asking his followers to donate money to various causes. Most recently, he helped a mother to raise the cost of a delivery through twitter — “cloud birthing funding,” he called it.
Mr. Ieiri’s campaign sharply contrasts with Japan’s traditional election scene. Mr. Ieiri didn’t have any policy agendas when announcing his decision to run, he raised ¥7.2 million via cloud-funding to pay for his campaign costs, and his around-the-clock headquarters often gets most lively at night. The office is equipped with a live-streaming camera and a DJ booth, and on one recent occasion, a supporter was spotted sleeping on a couch at 11 a.m., with a leftover pot noodles and paper coffee cups from the night before nearby.
Mr. Ieiri said he has long been worried about weakening community networks and intergenerational bonds in the world’s third-largest economy, and through his experience of running shared-houses across the nation, he said he felt the need to tap into the political arena at some point.
He realized there were some limits to what the private sector could do in fostering a sense of community, especially in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The government could also help pick up the slack in areas such as community planning.
Full Article: Twitter Star Seeks Tokyo Votes – Japan Real Time – WSJ.