The Three Bans: Three Attributes Essential to Win an Election in Japan

In order for someone to become a politician in Japan, he or she usually needs three bans: jiban, kanban, and kaban. Jiban means the support of area (your father is already elected in the area). Kanban means advertisement board, a metaphor that means fame. Kaban means a “bag” (a metaphor for money).  Political connections are more important in Japan than the US.  In the US, money and connections are important, but not nearly as important as in Japan. In the US, it is common for “newcomers” to win elections.

There is a similar expression to these three bans outside of politics as well; It is said that there are three bags (three fukuro) said to be essential for a long lasting happy marriage. The first bag is ofukuro, a Japanese word for a mother. This means that, to be grateful for the parents who raised you is important. The second bag is ibukuro which means stomach. It indicates that it is important for a wife to continue to cook the meals that satisfies the stomach of her husband. The third bag is kyuryo bukuro which is an envelope that salaries used to be placed in when being given out. Nowadays payment of salaries are usually done by bank transfer, but a long time ago salaries were paid by giving employees cash envelopes. Kyuro is a Japanese term that means salary and bukuro means a bag, though in this case it is referring to an envelope.

Kanban ( Sign Board)

Kaban ( Bag)

Jiban (Support of Your Area)

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