In my experience, it’s occasionally challenging to understand the politics of Japanese people. While some residents, like the numerous right wingers, are very outspoken, it seems many are reticent to express their opinions frankly. This is, of course, especially true with hot-button and controversial issues. Furthermore, younger people are increasingly checking out of the political sphere, making it harder to engage them on such topics.

On his YouTube channel, That Japanese Man Yuta approaches this predicament head-on. The vlogger often interviewers residents on the street to talk about issues pertinent to Western and Japanese cultures. He covers a range of topics, many of which are far from controversial. Others, however, cover contentious situations like the story surrounding Carlos Goshn, body image, and social media blunders by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Logan Paul. For this post, let's get political and see what issues matter most to passersby.

Pandemic Response

Like in other countries, the Japanese government's response to COVID-19 seemed lopsided and delayed in the early days of the pandemic. Residents mostly behaved normally as the government has limited powers to instigate a lockdown or restrict its citizens' movement. Before concerned residents began hunkering down, Yuta hit the streets.

While there were a variety of opinions, most seemed to think the government could have done a better job. The overall response was delayed, and most people still had to go out as usual. Furthermore, interviewees had complaints about the action of local authorities, immigration, and overall education.

Also, early on, Japan experienced a severe lack of masks and other sanitary products. Panic buying was rampant, and staples like diapers and toilet paper became nearly impossible to find. As shelves once again became stocked, the Abe administration announced a new plan.

The government thought that reusable masks, which can be made by individuals from household materials in a pinch, was what the pandemic called for.

As you can see in Yuta's video, the online reaction was scathing. Many good memes trended during the time, though...

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is a popular, albeit controversial former Democratic presidential candidate. Until he dropped out in April, he advocated a leftist platform that broadly divided his party. While he appeared poised to take the nomination in February, unfortunately for Sanders, Joe Biden eventually overcame him in support.

Due to his tumultuous history with the DNC, nearly every American is aware of Sanders and his policies. However, it's interesting how the country’s politics have a way of transcending borders. Here, Yuta interviews Japanese residents what they think about the famous political figure

While some mistook him for The Colonel, I think a surprisingly high number of interviewees recognized Sanders. Some were also aware he was a Democratic Presidential candidate for a time. Furthermore, many interviewees were familiar with his policies facing socioeconomic inequality.

Gay Marriage

As Grape covered before, despite being a relatively conservative society Japan has recently made strides towardsLGBT equality. While the historically marginalized group is receiving more recognition in terms of civil unions and the like, work remains to be done.

Yuta asked residents how they feel about same-sex marriages.

Like their Western counterparts, young Japanese residents, in particular, are supportive of same-sex marriages. They respect an individual's right to choose and are unconcerned about whom someone marries. This is not so shocking--Japanese society was also historically permissive to homosexuality.

Nevertheless, some residents are strongly opposed. Detractors feel that same-sex relationships are "gross" and "unproductive." Same-sex couples are far from the majority in Japan, further complicating the matter in this uniform society.

Domestic Issues

Finally, Yuta asked interviewees about the issues most important to them. While these topics are not particularly well-known abroad, they are important current events that receive a lot of news coverage. Some responses included:

...and several others. If you're interested in learning more, we've covered many of these topics before. Have a look.

By - Luke Mahoney.