Japan looks set to lower its voting age for the first time in seven decades after a bill to give 18-year-olds the right to vote was submitted to parliament Thursday. Endorsed across party lines, the planned change would be the first since 1945, when the voting age was lowered to 20 from 25 and women were given the right to vote. The revision, which is expected to pass during the current session and take effect for upper-house elections in the summer of 2016, will add around 2.4 million potential voters in an electorate of 104 million.
While that only accounts for around 2% of the voting population, the move reflects concerns that elderly voters have too much clout in the world’s fastest-aging nation.
A quarter of Japanese are older than 65, up from just one-tenth in 1985, while a drop in voter turnout in Japan in recent years is especially pronounced among the young. Only 38% of voters in their 20s went to the polls in the 2012 general election, compared with 75% among those in their 60s.