JULY brought the noise of political campaigning to the streets of Japan, culminating with the upper house elections on July 21. Thanks to the popularity of Abenomics, the coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito regained the majority it had lost in 2007.
Some worry that this might persuade Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to return to his dream of removing Japan’s pacifism from the country’s constitution. But in spite of the landslide, his party doesn’t have enough seats to do this on its own and coalition partner Komeito is strongly opposed.
So for the time being, Abe likely will remain focused on the economy. His newly acquired power, however, should give him enough freedom to push through unpopular but badly needed reforms.
With the important upper house elections out of the way, Japanese eyes are now fixed on the next elections: those for choosing the city to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. Tokyo is one of the three finalists and its chances look favorable. The International Olympic Committee will elect the host city on September 7 at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To warm up, we look at Tokyo’s Olympic bid and the surprising link between the Olympics and Harajuku, Tokyo’s irreverent center of youth culture.
Summer in Japan, of course, means matsuri, or street festivals. Religious in origin, many are now spectacles that unite the community and attract lots of tourists. In this issue, acclaimed Japanese fashion designer Junko Koshino shares how the powerful festival of her hometown influenced her work. This inspired our cover photo of the gorgeous kimono she designed. In the same vein, I invited a number of Tokyo street fashion icons to show me looks inspired by summer and matsuri. They brought me an explosion of creativity and color, with many incorporating traditional Japanese elements in very modern ways.