The Japanese political elite are well known for their exclusiveness. The dominance of a few chosen paths, e.g. the hereditary system, for a long time restricted the chances of newcomers to access national politics. Also, recruitment decisions were made on the informal level of local politics. When the DPJ headquarters in 1999 introduced the open recruitment – the so called kōbo-system – for national elections, the focus was set on the goals of achieving transparent recruitment mechanisms and improving national politics’ accessibility. This article asks whether these ambitious goals were realized or not. Does the open recruitment really produce transparent selection procedures and equal opportunities for all aspirants for state level candidacy regardless of personal ties and financial strength? Is this claim for new types of candidates and recruitment patterns compatible with the party’s need to win elections? As this study will show, this last question significantly challenges the DPJ’s quest for transparency and openness. Whereas at first glance the DPJ’s open recruitment testifies to certain changes in the Japanese campaigning style and its dominant recruitment policies, deeper investigation shows that old patterns and requirements for state level candidate recruitment still remain valid and challenge the new recruitment system’s initial purpose.