SUSAMI, Wakayama -- A "general election" is ongoing at an aquarium in this west Japan town in a bid to increase people's interest in undersea life while the public is requested to stay at home due to the spread of coronavirus infections. The event also aims to gain financial support for the facility, which has seen its revenue halved amid the pandemic.
The Susami Municipal Aquarium of Crab and Shrimp launched the election in which people can vote online for 12 "parties" of creatures, including ones kept at the facility. The parties include the "Fudo (literally 'immobile') Party" consisting of creatures slow in motion such as sea cucumbers, the "Koei (literally 'like to swim') Party" comprising blue crabs and related species that are good at swimming, the "Shomin (literally 'commons') Party" of shrimps that are generally sold at supermarkets such as Japanese tiger prawns, and the "Suppon Ishin no Kai (roughly meaning 'switching shells quickly')" party consisting of hermit crab species that switch to larger shells as they grow.
Each party's campaign poster is on the aquarium's website. When one purchases three metal badges of a party for 300 yen (about $2.80) via the facility's online shop, one vote is cast for the party. Voting is open until May 31.
The event also aims to support the operation of the aquarium, which saw its revenue drop in half in fiscal 2020 from the previous fiscal year due to the coronavirus pandemic. A representative of the facility is calling for participation in the election, saying: "We came up with this project that people can have a laugh about at a time when they may tend to feel blue. As our financial condition is severe, we would be happy if they could help us out."
The election results will be announced in June, and the most popular party's creatures will be featured in a special exhibition. Five voters will be selected by lottery and awarded an assortment of the aquarium's original gifts and an annual pass to the facility.
(Japanese original by Yukihiro Takeuchi, Tanabe Local Bureau)