In 2012, 94-year-old Ryokichi Kawashima walked into the city office of Tokyo to register as a candidate in Japan’s parliamentary election. He paid for his campaign from his pension savings, which had been earmarked for his funeral. He felt compelled to enter the political race after watching the major party candidates debate on TV and finding himself frustrated with what he saw as their inability to connect with the real world. He knew he had little chance of winning, but he wanted his voice to be heard on the issues that mattered most to him: opposition to nuclear power plants and a desire for Japan to remain true to its constitution, which prohibits war by the state.
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