While in some democratic countries voting is legally compulsory, in most it is up to each individual whether or not they choose to exercise that right. In Japan, too, voters can register their vote in support of a candidate, who might hail from one of many political parties, but they also have the same right to spend election day at home in their underwear. An article on a non-political organisation’s blog site that has been picked up by Japanese Twitter users explains how the excuse your loved one gives for not making it to the ballot box tells you exactly why they’d make for a lousy life partner.
An article by Hiroki Komazaki, spokesperson for the non-political think tank Florence, which looks for solutions to societal problems, has been the subject of debate among Japanese Twitter users after it suggested that the excuses boyfriends gave for not going out to vote secretly said a lot about the type of person they are, and for its uncompromising tone, with lines that translate to phrases like, ‘drop them‘ or ‘time to rethink your relationship‘. A large number of users think Komazaki may be onto something though, and it’s probably no exaggeration to say that there are probably some boyfriends or girlfriends in Japan who are surprised to find themselves being questioned on their voting habits by prospective suitors.
The article gave five common excuses proffered when trying to explain away not voting on election day and why that means your partner might not be such a great long-term prospect. Here are some excerpts:
1. “Going to vote is too much like hard work.”
If your boyfriend is saying they can’t be bothered to go somewhere quarter of an hour from their home on their day off then if you ever have children together can you really expect him to take them anywhere? You don’t want to marry someone like that. Drop him.’
Laziness, apparently, is not an excuse. Komazaki, as with his other advice, takes not wanting to make the effort to vote to a satirical extreme, suggesting that such guys wouldn’t make good, or at least co-operative, parents. Perhaps if the government took a leaf out of the McDonald’s playbook and made all polling stations Pokemon GO gym locations they might get more bums off sofas.
2. “It wouldn’t matter who I voted for anyway, they’re all the same.”
When he says this, it really means he’s lacking in reading ability. For example, the Democratic Party say “we need to raise tax to pay for social security”, while the Communist Party is saying they have some proposals that would mean a tax increase wouldn’t be necessary. Even a ten-year old can work out that they’re saying completely different things.’
Even if the only thing that seems to separate the political parties is their names, Komazaki suggests that actually listening to what they’re actually saying might help. He uses the polemic example of policies towards a tax hike, although his choice of two very different parties makes things a bit more clear-cut than they really are. Maybe the Communist Party will see a boost from readers of the blog.
3. “I don’t really get the whole voting thing.”
When you enter society, and work a job, you’ll find that there are lots of things you don’t know, and that you have to look up. First, you just have to pretend you know what you’re doing while you study and work out what it is you’re supposed to be doing. If your boyfriend says he can’t understand elections, there’s a good chance he won’t be any good at his job. His future is not going to be a bright one.’
The blog gives the example of a sales representative at Honda, whose vehicles may or may not (for the purpose of the example) be inferior to those of Nissan, so he would need to read through the manual and work out what it is he needs to say to boost the appeal of his company’s cars to customers. If he can’t do that, he won’t be getting that all-important performance bonus. And that’s as much as a turn off for some Japanese women as not being able to understand elections.
4. “I’ve got plans on election day.”
There’s this handy system in place where you can vote without going anywhere on the day. All the details are available online. It must mean he doesn’t know how to use Google. He’s young but he can’t use Google, that makes his workplace value close to zero. That kind of guy has no future.’
Like many countries, Japan has several alternatives in place for those who can’t physically make it to the ballot box on election day, designed with the elderly or disabled in mind rather than the lazy or busy, such as postal or proxy voting. The information is all available online, and Komazaki rightly points out that not being able to find and understand information through online search engines is a serious handicap in the world of today, even if he exaggerates the point for comedic effect.
5. “I don’t trust politicians.”
There’s a good chance that he thinks that by acting all cynical he looks cool. It doesn’t. There’s also a 99% probability this means he doesn’t know anything about politicians. The media might put out dumbed-down material about how all politicians are not to be trusted and only someone who swallows that without thinking could say something like that.
There are all kinds of politicians, it’s as ridiculous as saying you can’t trust Chinese people or that all Japanese people are good. There are some you can trust and some you can’t; there are some good people and some bad, everybody knows that simple truth. It also means when he looks at you he doesn’t see you as you are, he just sees labels he can attach to you, like ‘female student’, or ‘amateur model’. He’s just wasting your time, it’s time to move on.
As Komazaki points out in his summary, the ratio of young people voting compared to elderly voters is 1:11. One major reason might be that voting isn’t seen as cool. Some think it’s better to appear jaded by politics or above such minor considerations as who runs the country, so this is where the blog is particularly acerbic, not only towards those who don’t vote but also towards the newspapers and news programs that simplify everything into black and white, good and bad. It’s also in this final entry that it becomes even clearer that while the satirical device might be relationship advice, the real purpose of the blog is to get people to reconsider their own behavior.
The blogger certainly doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to confronting partners about their political (in)activity though and more than a few readers and Twitter users seemed to take it at face value. The article refers to readers’ boyfriends but political apathy is not confined to either sex. Whether there’s any truth in non-voters romantic suitability or not is for others to say although more than a few other Twitter users seemed to think such excuses would be enough to show someone the door, but with so many young Japanese uninterested in romance that’s no great surprise. Others had this to say:
‘You might be right, I’d better get rid of him.’
‘That guy’s pretty persuasive.’
‘So the kind of guy girls should be going for is someone like the spokesperson for a think tank, is that what he’s saying?’
‘Obviously it’s not really about guys or girls, or relationships, He’s just saying get out there and vote.’
‘Why does he keep going on about men being so stupid, or lazy. It’s so sexist.’
‘People who think this is sexist are the ones who you should be dumping, they’ve completely misunderstood the whole thing.’
The old adage to avoid religion and politics when talking with friends or loved ones might be be safer and wiser. And if political talk is still on the table, which Pokemon would make the best prefectural governor is one we can get behind.
Sources: Florence and Twitter/@hikari1209perc via Hachimakiko
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