November 19, 2017

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Ato Dashi Janken and the Tokyo Gubernatorial Election

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Janken is a Japanese word for “rock, paper and scissors.” The phrase “ato dashi janken” is an idiom that means “to play your hand slightly after other players have played rock, paper or scissors.” The definition of ato dashi janken in one online dictionary is “try to win ‘rock-paper- scissors’ by making your move later than others.”

In the recent Tokyo gubernatorial election, the candidates who declare their candidacy at the last minute tend to win. In fact, in the last four Tokyo gubernatorial elections (1995, 1999, 2012, 2014), the candidate who declared their candidacy last ended up winning. The Japanese media refer to this phenomenon as ato dashi janken.

In the 1995 election, the winner Yukio Aoshima declared his candidacy 13 days before the campaign started. In 1999, the winner Shintaro Ishihara declared 15 days before the campaign started. In 2012, the winner Naoki Inose declared eight days before. In the 2014 election, the winner Yoichi Masuzoe declared nine days before.

Source Mainishi Shimbun

Ato dashi janken is written as 後だしジャンケン.

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