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  • This is a day in the life of a Japanese Politician.

  • [Music]

  • This is Ayumi, 36 years-old living in

  • Tokyo and she's just waking up for work.

  • Oh, and that's her two-year-old son Hiro-Kun!

  • They live in a 3-LDK apartment

  • together with her husband, but he's away

  • during the weekdays. It's called Tanshin-Funin

  • in Japanese, which means married

  • partner living separately from the

  • family for work.

  • It's fairly common in Japan. Since he's

  • not around, Ayumi's mother comes by

  • every morning to help out.

  • Hiro-Kun is quite active so she helps

  • watch him, while Ayumi cooks and gets

  • ready for the day.

  • The first thing she does is prepare for

  • Hiro-kun's breakfast. She feels it's

  • important for her son to have a balanced

  • Japanese-style meal

  • every day, but doesn't have the time in

  • the morning to prepare all the dishes,

  • so she does a lot of the meal-prep

  • whenever she has free time.

  • Now, while Hiro-kun's slowly works on his

  • breakfast with grandma; Ayumi prepares a

  • typical Japanese Bento-box for his lunch.

  • Wow! That looks delicious!

  • Oh no, I think her son is getting fussy!

  • Oh! Ayumi is making a Kyaraben, it's short

  • for Character Bento and it's very common

  • in Japan

  • to prepare for kids, so they can have fun

  • during their lunch-time.

  • After breakfast, she helps Hiro-kun

  • practice reading Hiragana.

  • Finally! She gets time to get herself

  • ready.

  • It only takes Ayumi five minutes to

  • get ready, since she took a bath the

  • night before.

  • I think that's a Day In The Life series

  • women's record!

  • And for her breakfast, she's having a banana smoothie!

  • Nice! That's a pin given to only city-

  • council members.

  • Before work, she takes her son to nursery school.

  • In Tokyo,

  • getting your child enrolled in a nursery

  • school can be as competitive as getting

  • into university,

  • but, dual working parents have a slight advantage.

  • So, Ayumi lives fairly close to her office,

  • sometimes even taking her bicycle but

  • today,

  • she's decided to take the bus. The ride

  • itself is less than 20 minutes,

  • relatively-short compared to most

  • Jjapanese-salaryman commutes.

  • So Ayumi works as a Kugikaigiin,

  • in English a city-council member for

  • Minato ku in Tokyo. Confusingly, the term

  • 'ku' in English means ward, a subdivision

  • of a city. Yet in Tokyo, all of the

  • 23 wards, like

  • Minato-ku are classified as cities, since

  • they're equally-independent and governed

  • like a city.

  • Even with their own mayor! So I'm just in

  • front of the city hall and Ayumi should be

  • arriving in just a little bit.

  • Oh there she is!

  • Let's go see how she's doing.

  • Good morning!

  • What time did you sleep last night?

  • It's super hot today, right?

  • So Ayumi has been working as a city council member

  • for over five-years and this

  • is her second term. There are 34

  • council members in Minato city, directly

  • elected by citizens every four years.

  • City council members decide on matters

  • such as budgets, ordinance and deliberate

  • and decide on municipal policies,

  • all the while working closely with the

  • mayor. This term 13 out of 34 members are

  • women, one of the highest representation

  • of women council members

  • in Japan. In fact, only 10.2 percent of

  • Japan's diet members are women, the

  • lowest in the G20.

  • Oh, it looks like our intern is patiently

  • waiting at her door.

  • This is Ayumi's office, a very typical-style

  • Japanese office.

  • Open-island style desk-setup with

  • no cubicle, so that everyone can easily

  • communicate with one another.

  • Oh! Another intern has arrived.

  • So why did you decide to become a city council member?

  • As an intern for a Japanese politician,

  • it's important to always be available

  • when needed.

  • In this case, they stand at the edge of

  • the desk ready and waiting for Ayumi's

  • next instruction.

  • How old are you?

  • Oh you're a college student.

  • Which university do you go to?

  • What are you gonna do now?

  • As a council member, one of their jobs is

  • to discover useful services that the

  • the city can offer to its residents.

  • Today, she's meeting with a company who

  • provides short-term childcare services,

  • with the company's hopes to offer the

  • service to the city.

  • In Japan, it's crucial after the meeting

  • to see your clients off, and even more

  • important to wait until they're no longer visible,

  • before you leave.

  • Just after her meeting, she decides to go

  • to the city assembly-hall to practice

  • her speech for the next council meeting.

  • She usually doesn't practice, but since

  • they installed the plastic panel for

  • the Coronavirus recently, she wanted to see

  • how it would be like to speak.

  • Oh cool! That's her seat.

  • All council members are assigned their

  • own seat in the hall.

  • It even has their name on it!

  • So nobody uses the assembly hall right now?

  • Finally! Lunchtime!

  • As a Japanese Politician, her schedule is filled from

  • morning till evening.

  • So much so, that she can barely take a 30-

  • minute lunch.

  • She often takes lunch at the city hall

  • public cafeteria, located in the building.

  • Prices are quite reasonable so you'll

  • find even residents visiting city hall

  • eating here.

  • Tanuki Soba! Great choice!

  • Wow, the food here is quite reasonably- priced and

  • check out this view; it's pretty amazing.

  • And a little secret for all of you;

  • anyone can actually come here.

  • Do you three eat together every day?

  • In between meetings she must diligently

  • follow up on paperwork, as her time is limited.

  • Oh! She's using a Hanko,

  • an official Japanese stamp.

  • So the Hanko-stamp system is embedded

  • deeply in Japanese government procedures

  • and sign-off documents.

  • It's equivalent of an official signature in western

  • culture. Basically, any official documents

  • in Japan require Hanko stamp for approval.

  • But, just this year Japan's

  • state minister has been pushing to remove

  • many of the Hanko-stamp procedures

  • from government documents. But who knows?

  • This plan still needs to get hunkered off.

  • That's a staff member from the city

  • council office.

  • As a council-member, Ayumi often works with the office

  • to discuss council operations.

  • So, in addition to meeting with people

  • from the outside, she's also responsible

  • for handling internal administrative tasks.

  • Since the Olympics were cancelled in Tokyo,

  • is there a lot of things that you need

  • to take care of?

  • They constructed a fence to block out

  • the ocean section used for the race,

  • so people couldn't get in.