Teenage voters cast ballots as early voting began Thursday across Japan for the first national election since the minimum voting age was lowered to 18 from 20. Chiho Tatsumi, an 18-year-old high school student, is believed to be the first teenage voter to cast a ballot for the July 10 House of Councilors election. Tatsumi, who voted shortly after 6:30 a.m. at an early voting station in Mino, Osaka Prefecture, before going to school, told reporters, “If I got the right to vote but did not go to vote, that would not make sense,” adding she hoped her friends also participate in the voting.
Under the revised Public Offices Election Law that lowered the voting age, local authorities are allowed to open and close up to two hours before and after the official early voting hours of 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Kyodo News found that the city of Mino was the municipality where voting began earliest at 6:30 a.m.
To improve turnout, the early voting system has been in place for those unable to go to polling stations on election day due to work or other commitments. The period for early voting runs from Thursday to July 9.