Todd Crowell at Real Clear World: The Real Race Begins in Japan

RCW:It is 6 a.m. in front of the railroad station in Musashi-Sakai, a western suburb of Tokyo, and Reiko Matsushita is already up and campaigning. She stands in front of the station entrance catching the commuters as they head for the trains to go to work.

For the next three hours, she will bow and repeat her name over and over again, while her campaign supporters hand out flyers to those who will take them. Most of the commuters walk past her, their heads held down, hurrying to catch their commuter trains.

Matsushita, 38, is a first-term member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, the legislature of the capital, and is running for a second four-year term as a member of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DJP). Four years ago she defeated a longstanding member of the governing party, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), for the seat, and she is fighting hard to retain it in a rematch.

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