A 19-year-old Japanese college student joined others casting a historic first ballot at a polling station earlier this week. Then he wondered if he had spent enough time looking into the candidates. Kouki Nozomuto, who used an early voting system in Yokohama for those who are busy on election day, is among 2.4 million newly eligible voters for Sunday’s race for the upper house of parliament, the first national election since Japan lowered the voting age last year from 20 to 18. “I thought I’ll just go in between classes, so I think maybe I should have spent more time (to prepare),” he said afterward, saying he came because he thinks it’s a citizen’s duty to vote and he wants his voice to be heard. “On reflection, that’s what I think I should have done better.”Full Article: Japan lowers voting age, but are young ready to vote? - HeraldCourier.com: World.
Articles about voting issues in Japan.
Despite the death of seven Japanese aid workers in the Dhaka siege last Friday, opposition parties are putting pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the run-up to this Sunday’s Upper House election not to rewrite security laws that will give the country more powers to protect itself and its citizens. They have vowed to block any attempts by Mr Abe to revise the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise its right to collective self-defence and go to the aid of any ally under attack. Mr Abe had alluded to the possible change at a rally after the Bangladesh attack, when he stressed he will take “all possible means” to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens around the world. “We’d like to join forces with the international community to root out terrorist acts. We will firmly secure the safety of Japanese nationals both at home and abroad,” he said last Sunday.Full Article: Constitutional reform likely after Japan election, East Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times.
Japan: To Inspire Young Voters, Japan Tries Comics, Teen Models and a Talking Grain of Rice | Wall Street Journal
To persuade 18- and 19-year-olds to head to the polls for the first time this weekend, officials in Japan have launched marketing campaigns starring a series of ambassadors they believe will play to the budding democratic instincts of the country’s youth. They include a male model and his platinum-haired sweetheart, a lovelorn comic-book character and a talking grain of rice. The opposition Democratic Party hopes to increase turnout by inviting actual young people—in fact, teen models—to talk sessions with lawmakers where they chat about the latest cellphone apps and gossip about romance between members of parliament. At a recent event, participants suggested free ice cream and more shelters for abandoned pets as policies they wanted the government to adopt. “These models have a lot of big fans, and these events might be an opportunity to make those fans think that politics is actually a part of their lives and that they should vote,” said Democratic Party lawmaker Akihiro Hatsushika. Japan, which has the oldest population of any country on Earth, has good reason to want to get its young people engaged in politics. While most elderly Japanese vote, only about a third of people in their 20s voted in a lower house election in late 2014, when overall turnout hit an almost record low. The law to lower the voting age was passed last year. Nearly two-thirds of 18- and 19-year-olds say they aren’t affiliated with either of the two biggest political parties, according to a survey conducted in June by Asahi Shimbun.Full Article: To Inspire Young Voters, Japan Tries Comics, Teen Models and a Talking Grain of Rice - WSJ.
Japan: Politics a man’s world in Japan as few females stand in 2016 Upper House election | The Japan Times
A key issue female Japanese voters focus on in election season is whether the men who dominate politics are serious about welcoming more women to their ranks. More female lawmakers are needed to speak for Japanese women at a time when the nation faces challenges such as an acute shortage of places at children’s day care facilities. Out of 389 candidates in Sunday’s Upper House election, 96 are women, down nine from the Upper House election three years ago. The ratio of female candidates to males is up by 0.5 percentage point to 24.7 percent because the overall number of people running has fallen from 433 to 389.Full Article: Japanese politics a man's world as few females stand in 2016 Upper House election | The Japan Times.
As Japan’s newly enfranchised teen voters make up their minds ahead of the July 10 House of Councillors election, the country’s political parties are taking their online campaign videos beyond the mundane to appeal to the youth vote. Since internet campaigning was legalized in 2013, parties’ online election campaign videos have tended to be limited to footage of leaders’ public speeches or press conferences. But with approximately 2.4 million new voters aged 18 and 19 joining the electorate in time for the upper house race after the voting age was lowered from 20, the parties are exploring new territory as they vie to become a familiar presence on young people’s smartphones.Full Article: Japan's political parties target internet generation with innovative campaign videos ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
The 2016 triennial House of Councillors or upper house election is set to test Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s policy and popularity. Although the House of Councillors is less powerful than the House of Representatives, past prime ministers have been forced to resign after poor electoral results in the upper house. Prime Minister Abe does not face that prospect. His party is likely to suffer losses, though not big enough to lose majority. Japan’s upper house consists of 242 members of which half is up for elections every three years. There are two types of electoral systems and each voter casts two ballots: one to choose 48 members from a national party-list and the other to choose the rest of 73 members from prefectural districts consisting of between one and six seats, depending on the size of the population. For example, Tokyo has 6 seats while there are 32 single-member districts, after readjustments made for this year’s elections.Full Article: Will size matter in Japan’s upper house election? | East Asia Forum.
The July 10 House of Councillors election could put at least two-thirds of the upper house in the hands of lawmakers amenable to amending the Japanese Constitution, opening the door to a national referendum on the issue, according to a Kyodo News survey. The ruling bloc of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito are likely to win at least 70 of the 121 seats up for grabs in the election, comfortably exceeding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s stated target of 61, a majority of the contested seats. The nationwide telephone poll conducted Wednesday and Thursday—in which a total of 34,240 households nationwide were surveyed and 27,597 eligible voters responded—suggests that with the addition of Initiatives from Osaka and independents thought likely to support reform, Abe could amass sufficient support for his long-standing goal of amending the war-renouncing Constitution.Full Article: Upper house election may put Constitution reform in reach ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
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.Full Article: First teens cast ballots as early voting starts for Upper House election | The Japan Times.
Japan’s parliamentary election campaign kicked off Wednesday as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party seeks a mandate for his economic policies amid opposition criticism that the lives of the ordinary people are not improving. As more than 380 candidates took to the streets across the nation, pleading for votes from vans outside train stations and shopping arcades, Abe opened the campaign with a pledge to proceed with his “Abenomics” plan to revive the economy and pull the country out of a slump. “The biggest topic of this election is economic policies,” Abe told a crowd in Kumamoto, a southern city struck by deadly earthquakes in April. “This is an election in which we decide whether to return to that dark doldrums or not.” Up for grabs in the July 10 vote are 121 seats, or half of the seats in Parliament’s less powerful upper house.Full Article: Japan election campaign kicks off, Abe pushes economic plan - The Washington Post.
A revised election law lowering the minimum age to vote in Japan to 18 from 20 took effect Sunday, in a change that will be applied to the upcoming House of Councillors election. The change means approximately 2.4 million new voters aged 18 and 19 joined the electorate in a reform to better reflect young people’s opinions in politics. There were about 104.2 million voters as of the last national poll—a House of Representatives election in December 2014. Amendments to the Public Offices Election Law changed the voting age for the first time in 70 years, or since 1946 when the minimum voting age was lowered to 20 from 25. People who will be 18 by July 11, the day after the July 10 upper house election, will be able to vote in that poll.Full Article: Revised election law lowering voting age in Japan to 18 takes effect ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
“Elections are exciting!” proclaims “election visualist” Garei Zamamiya in an interview with Weekly Playboy (June 20). A lot of people will be surprised to hear that. If Japanese election campaigns were as exciting as they are noisy, it would be a different story, but everyone knows they’re not, with debate dumbed down to imbecility and outcomes largely foregone conclusions. Zamamiya may have a point, however, with reference to the Upper House election slated for July 10. Two factors set it apart. One is a question of some urgency: Will the governing coalition led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe procure a two-thirds majority enabling it to revise the Constitution?Full Article: Mobilizing 18- and 19-year-old voters a challenge ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
Japan: Age 18: 2.4 million new voters / Teachers worry about staying neutral on politics | The Japan News
“How should we respond if students ask us what we think of today’s political parties?” In late March, a Tokyo high school principal posed this question to members of the government’s Education Rebuilding Implementation Council, who were visiting the school to observe a mock election being held there. A senior official of the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry who was accompanying the visitors advised, “Avoid saying, ‘I think that …. ’” With the voting age soon to be lowered to 18, teachers are worried about how to deal with political neutrality. The Fundamental Law of Education stipulates that “[Schools] must not carry out political education or other political activities in support of, or in opposition to, a particular political party.”Full Article: Age 18: 2.4 million new voters / Teachers worry about staying neutral on politics - The Japan News.
A new name unveiled by Japan’s main opposition party and a smaller group with which it is set to merge has come under fire, as analysts warn the the rebranding could more harm than good just months away from a national election. Leaders of the two parties announced the new name, Minshinto – provisionally translated as Democratic Innovation Party (DIP) – on Monday based on surveys asking voters to choose between two options. The bigger Democratic Party of Japan will thus abandon a label under which it has battled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party for two decades, but which for many voters is associated with a 2009-2012 DPJ reign marked by policy flipflops and missteps.Full Article: Opposition party's new name seen as risk ahead of election ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday it is desirable that the next House of Representatives election be held after implementing proposed electoral system reform aimed at addressing vote weight disparities between constituencies in urban and rural areas. “It is important that such reform be reflected firmly when the next election is held,” Abe said at the lower house Budget Committee. Abe made the comment amid speculation that he may dissolve the lower house for a snap general election to coincide with a House of Councillors election this summer in what would be a “double election.” However, the premier has not ruled out the possibility of dissolving the lower chamber before the proposed reform takes effect.Full Article: Abe wants electoral reform reflected in next lower house election ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion.
The Lower House on Thursday passed a bill to enable people aged 18 or 19 to vote in the upcoming Upper House election even if they change their address shortly before the ballot. While the country is set to lower its voting age to 18 from 20 on June 19, some 70,000 of the 2.4 million new voters were expected to become ineligible to vote as the current election system shuts out those who change their address less than three months before the election.Full Article: Lower House passes bill to preserve voting rights for new electors | The Japan Times.
Japan: Government to take innovative steps to get out the vote for summer elections | The Asahi Shimbun
The government is going all-out to increase voter turnout for this summer’s Upper House election, and is even considering setting up polling stations at shopping centers or other retail outlets in front of major train stations. Under the Public Offices Election Law, just one polling booth is set up in each neighborhood. Normally, elementary schools serve as polling locations. Given that elections are usually held on Sundays in Japan, setting up polling booths at shopping centers would allow people to cast their votes in-between weekend shopping. According to the internal affairs ministry, which is in charge of elections, the joint polling booths would be set up in addition to the normal polling stations. All polling stations would be connected online to prevent individuals from voting more than once.Full Article: Japan to take innovative steps to get out the vote for summer elections - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun.
Japan: Administration looks to let people vote in major train stations, other high-traffic locations | The Japan Times
Hoping to raise voter turnout, the Abe administration plans to allow people to cast their ballots at major train stations and commercial complexes, according to a government source. The administration will try to get the necessary change to the public offices election law by the end of March so it will be in effect for the Upper House election this summer, the source said Monday. People are currently allowed to vote at only one place, usually a school or public office in the neighborhood where they live, designated by the election council. The bill would permit setting up “common voting stations” in high-traffic places, such as train and subway stations, shopping centers and other public facilities, in addition to current polling stations.Full Article: Administration looks to let people vote in major train stations, other high-traffic locations | The Japan Times.
Getting youngsters to vote in next year’s Upper House election may mean coaxing them to be more independent-minded once they leave the nest. And with Japan welcoming 18- and 19-year-olds at ballot boxes next summer, the government is targeting high school students who leave home for university or other reasons to transfer their residence registries, so that they are able to vote in elections. “We want people to vote in the first election held after they turn 18 — and continue to vote in the future,” a senior Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry official said. “Relocating the registry to their current address is the first step.” Japanese citizens are given ballots by municipalities based on their resident registry, and the country’s basic resident register law requires people to transfer their registry when they move.Full Article: Changing residence registries seen as key for young voter turnout in Japan | The Japan Times.
Japan’s upper house approved a bill lowering the voting age to 18 from 20 on Wednesday, a move unlikely to lessen the dominance of the “silver” vote in one of Asia’s most-rapidly aging countries. The change will add about 2.4 million people to the almost 104 million who were eligible to vote in the December general election. The new law is likely to take effect in time for an upper house election scheduled for 2016. The views of younger Japanese are barely reflected in politics, as they are increasingly outnumbered by the swelling ranks of their elders and because they are less likely to vote. Nonetheless, both the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the biggest opposition group, the Democratic Party of Japan, backed today’s change in the hope of gaining more support from new voters.Full Article: Japan Lowers Voting Age to 18 Amid ‘Silver’ Surge at the Polls - Bloomberg Business.
Japan: Government scrambles to help young voters-to-be navigate elections law minefield | The Mainichi
Eighteen-year-olds will likely soon be able to vote and participate in political activities in Japan, but this may have some young people wondering: If it’s legal for an 18-year-old to go out campaigning, is it legal for that person’s 17-year-old friend to join them? Amendments to the Public Offices Election Act lowering the voting age to 18 are expected to pass the Diet on June 17, in time to allow some high school students to vote in next summer’s House of Councillors election. As such, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology are scrambling to develop educational materials for these soon-to-be voters. The materials won’t cover just the basics of the electoral process and casting ballots, but also provide concrete examples of and warnings against elections law violations.Full Article: Gov't scrambles to help young voters-to-be navigate elections law minefield - 毎日新聞.