In Japan, Never Give a Lady a Sweaty Candidate ; in a Bid to Garner Women's Votes, the Main Opposition Party Issues 20,000 Manuals That Offer Candidates Advice on Visual Appeal

Article excerpt

Japan's main opposition party is hoping to garner votes in the upcoming general election by giving candidates a quick course on how to impress women.

Recent newspaper polls show support among women for the Democratic Party of Japan at around half the level seen among men. In an effort win back a share of the female vote in the Nov. 9 poll, the party has distributed 20,000 copies of a manual for candidates on everything from personal hygiene to fashion tips.

The visual aspects of a campaign have a strong impact on how a woman's opinion is formed, explains party spokesman Kenichi Suzuki. The manual advises that fingernails should be trimmed and that dandruff is a turnoff. Candidates should strive to make a good first impression by wearing tidy clothes and sporting an attractive hairstyle.

The party has introduced other visually pleasing tactics to woo women voters, such as stylishly designed promotional postcards, he adds.

Young women in particular tend not to listen to what a candidate has to say, as looks are more important to them, says Mr. Suzuki. The manual suggests candidates be aware of bad breath and avoid sweating unless obviously engaged in strenuous activity. It also admonishes them not to say anything insensitive.

The effort suggests an attempt to take some of the shine off the appeal of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. His striking hairstyle and maverick image make the divorcee an easy pitch for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's marketing gurus.

Mr. Koizumi's pin-up poster qualities were a key reason for his reelection as party leader in September. The LDP currently has about 50 percent support in recent opinion polls, with equal support from men and women.

With only 15-20 percent support in the polls, the opposition hopes that broadening its appeal will enable it to win enough seats to form a coalition to oust the LDP, which has governed for the past 50 years, except for a few months in 1993. …