Gone are the days when you had to be rich, or come from a political dynasty, or have x number of years in politics before you could run for a high-ranking position in government. 35-year-old boy wonder entrepreneur Kazuma Ieiri is one of the youngest ever candidates for the Tokyo gubernatorial seat, and his campaign is probably one of the most unconventional yet.
It all started with a tweet. “I will run for the Tokyo governor election if this tweet gets retweeted 1,000 times,” he posted last December. 30 minutes later, his fate was sealed as celebrities and fellow entrepreneurs helped him get the Twitter support he needed to decide on running for the highest office in the nation’s capital. Instead of looking for traditional financial backers, he once again used his social media powers to raise 7.2 million yen (approx. US$70,000) for his campaign through crowd-funding. His campaign headquarters can be viewed through live-streaming, and even has a DJ booth to keep volunteers alive and kicking as the office becomes livelier towards the evening.
People don’t see him as actually having a chance of winning, but many have been impressed by his “history-making” campaign. Instead of sharing his policies and agenda to the voters, he has actually asked people through Twitter (where he has had a huge following for some time now) what their suggestions are, compiling them in real-time through Google Docs. While he has received criticism from some because it seems like he lacks initiative, Ieiri believes in using the power of the Internet to let people be heard. “I thought it’s not right to dump specific policy agendas on the people, by speaking from somewhere high,” he shared.
Lest people think he’s just a bored Internet celebrity with too much time on his hands, Ieiri has actually been very active in the private business sector, becoming the youngest manager to list his company on JASDAQ when he was just 29. Aside from running Internet-service companies and restaurants, he has also used his social media star status to get people to donate to worthy causes. He decided to run for office because he realized there’s only so much the private sector can do in improving the lives of people. “I want to help create a place to belong for everyone, and it’s something that the private sector cannot do alone, so I wanted to start making changes from the political side,” he shared.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]