It’s a bird, it’s a plane … It’s a cartoon version of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, hopping and somersaulting his way through the sky in a smartphone game app his party hopes will lure young voters ahead of a July 21 election. A growing number of Japanese politicians are venturing into the cyber world after a legal change allowed the use of social media in campaigns, setting up Facebook pages and twitter accounts to woo voters before a July upper house election. But the app, which has the imprimatur of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), goes further in its effort to court tech-savvy youngsters, who tend to be apathetic about politics and put off by traditional campaigns featuring white-gloved politicians blaring their names and slogans over loudspeakers.
“There were worries that some young people thought the LDP was distant, that we lacked intimacy … that they didn’t know anything about us,” Takuya Hirai, a lawmaker and head of the LDP’s internet strategy team, told Reuters.
“We’re hoping the game will get people interested in politics in a way they never were before,” Hirai said.
In the game, called “Abe Pyon” – “Abe Hops” – using a cutesy word most often applied to rabbits – a business suit-clad Abe avatar bounds high into the clouds via floating platforms. Missing a platform causes him to plunge to his “death”.