Ichikawa in Chiba Prefecture ran into a problem. It has come to the public opinion that several members of the city council are acting unethically. Worse still, they behaved unethically in the Council halls.
So what crimes were committed? Do they take a bribe? Interns catch you? No, as you can see in the video below, they took a nap during a city council session.
To be honest, no one came with a pillow and a blanket in their pajamas. Instead, those who dozed slept while their colleagues gave speeches and raised topics worthy of debate. Even so, most people would agree that they would prefer their elected officials to at least remain calm while supposedly debating and passing laws that directly affect their constituents. And apart from those who fell asleep, one city councilor was seen sitting in his place reading historical novel while he was supposed to eavesdrop on the conversation.
Of course, this made the people of Ichikawa very angry. The city received more than 100 phone calls and letters of complaint when the nap was first published in the U.S. summer. With complaints like “Do your job!”, “This is more than laziness” and “They should be removed from office.”
The more sincere members of the council came up with an idea to regain public trust. Until last summer when the Ichikawa City Council started streaming plenary sessions on her YouTube channel, the camera would typically zoom in and focus on a person speaking to other council members from a podium at the front of the room. Now, however, the cameras are rotated more often to show the faces of the members of the listening council, allowing anyone watching the broadcast to determine whether or not they are awake, as seen in the part of the video that is displayed here.
Face view is the key. Council members may claim to have been incredibly quiet, breathing deeply, perhaps with their head tilted at an odd angle, while spending huge sums of money. Attention to proceed if they were observed from behind. However, anyone caught napping at work will be caught on camera or with their eyes closed.
New camera angles were introduced in September. City Council President Osami Matsuaga said, “With such close measures, I hope that all council members will act responsibly and make an effort to regain the faith of our city residents.” Councilor Yuki Sato, who is serving her first term, supported the measures. “I think it’s great that people can use them gadgets that visually check board members. It creates a sense of unity and shows how important it is to take council sessions seriously.”
However, the problem was not immediately solved by rotating the cameras. Some council members were still dozing during the last September live-streamed meeting. Some voiced their dissatisfaction with the new camera protocol, claiming that “The real problem is that discussions are putting you to sleep” and “Uninteresting, non-engaging discussions are to blame.” One person even went so far as to add: “I don’t agree with them telling us ‘Stay awake’ as if we kids or something.”
However, many Twitter users feel the treatment of insulting council members is similar misbehaving children is fully justified.
While the latter seems likely to be a significant source of income for Ichikawa, the city does not appear to be prepared to implement such a program yet. I think it would be a good idea for every council member to do that To rest before the next round of plenary sessions starting next month, even though the next Council session is due to start then.
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