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Why are Japanese people so apathetic toward politics?

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It's because the old guys are not cute. Why even Palin (a non-Japanese politician in a non-Japanese country) garners more interest. And did you know her cool specs were designed by a Japanese, oh my god! Now that's some nice headline news this morning. If that Aso got a pair of those Japanese-designed glasses that Palin wears I'd bother to vote for the pork barrel to plunge the country further down the toilet.

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how are japanese people more or less apathetic that other countries? how do you measure apathy, anyways? on what scale? what are the units? What are some of the many examples of non-apathy in japanese politics? Isn't polical news in the papers everyday? if japanese people were so apathetic, this news would be on page 8 or 9, wouldn't it? I can't answer your apathetic question without questioning the fualty reasoning with which you came to your conclusion.

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bamboohat- check how what percent vote in local and national elections. If those figures don`t make you realise Japanese are apthetic towards politics nothing will.

Kids are taught that speaking out and being dofferent, is causing trouble. Demonstrators are considered trouble makers, even if their cause is valid.

People put up with the Status Quo in Japan,that is why you have 60 odd years of LDP crooks in cahoots with the yakuza in power.

Japanese public, get a backbone and speak your mind, before it is too late.

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Because they are 'educated' that way.

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some14some; Exactly what my long winded post was trying to say.

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Umm, exactly how did the person asking this question determine that Jp people are so apathetic towards politics? With no actual statistics and the like, I'm sure it doesn't matter to those who readily agree with this sentiment.

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rjd jr-; How about searching for some facts for youself for once, instead of constant one liners without any substance.

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Probably because whoever is prime minister has no real effect on people's daily lives. The real power lies with the middle-level bureaucrats and their "hanko" (seals).

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It's none of my business.

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Because they are extremely consumeristic and shallow and focus more on appearance than substance. If the politician isnt cutesy or has some kind of unusual gimmick, then there is nothing to keep their attention.

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Can't afford the bribes.

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Could it be because the political process is so pathetic?

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Well, so far, it hasn't done Japan much harm to take a passive stance when it comes to politics. Who would really like to see an American-style Presidential race in Japan? Politicians screaming at you for a year or more. Promising too much and being totally unrealistic.

Moderator: Readers, please stay on topic. The subject is Japanese politics, not U.S. politics.

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The voter turnout in Japan is not that different from any Western country (without mandatory voting). 67% in 2005, IIRC.

Many people seem to take the absence of American-style news channels (or should Fox be considered Australian style?) as evidence that the Japanese are somehow not interested in Politics. Further, if you're coming from the perspective of American Monster Truck Show Party Politics - than yes, anything short of bloodsport is going to seem apathetic.

I consider the Japanese approach to politics to be a lot more informed and responsible than the absurd partisan sideshow that's infesting the West these days. People here - that is to say, the people I know and work with and golf with and so forth - see politics as the governing of the country, as opposed to a Superbowl/Wrestlemania-style extravaganza, where the Evil Liberals face off against the Mighty Neo-Cons.

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hokkaidoguy; Yeah Japanese have a real interest in politics here. Same idiotic bunch of crooks in power for decades.

My brother in law, works for a road construction company, every election time they are told to vote LDP, as they will be the best for business.

Japanese politics is a charade.

To say they are informed is a joke. Ask them the difference in policies between each party and expect (apart from about 1 out of 10), to recieve a vacant confused look.

Democacy does not thrive in Japan. Why compare Japan to America, Japan has a British styled parliament, don`t you know old boy!

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I can answer this question with a question:

Who is the Prime Minister this week?

Apathetic? - No!

Disgusted? - Yes!

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I've been here for quite a few years now, and of the people I know and interact with on a daily basis, I can think of about 1 in 10 that would not be able to differentiate between the two parties. Perhaps we're just running in different circles, but that's my experience. People are informed, and it's reflected in the voter turnout numbers.

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I'm not sure about that much apathy. I watched TV over the weekend and there was quite a lively debate over whether there should be a rise in the consumption tax. It was very interesting to see people so confidently raising their objections to the idea.

Politics is pretty off-putting in most countries and I guess is something of a "minority sport" - most Japanese people I know have no less disdain for politicians than people I know back home. Somehow their electoral system - or party system - i'm not sure which (but probably a mixture of both) makes it easier for the appearance of general apathy to occur.

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I find there are two groups of foreigners here. One comes to teach English at a school or investment bank for a few years and the only Japanese people they get to know are at pick-up bars. They tend to believe that Japanese people are apathetic about politics. They don't speak the language.

The other type have been here for years, or decades, and have often married into Japan. They are fluent in the language and talk politics with Japanese people and hear other Japanese people talking it. They know it's absurd to say that Japanese people are apathetic about politics. They know better than to use a single adjective to describe all of the people in Japan.

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Well rjdsr, you're stereotyping again, good to see you're consistent in life.

I've been here for almost twenty years and married for nearly fifteen. My wife and I live with her family in Tokyo. I can certainly tell you that my wife and her family never, ever talk about politics. Whenever we go out with friends, politics is never discussed.

Once again, you're knowledge about the inhabitants of your own country is very limited, usually limited to one-liners that are of no value to any thread on JT.

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Thenewfront, some14some and ColAmerica: Great posts.

rjdsr: you really are stereotypical.

Betting: Totally understand what you are saying.

And sorry, I have been here 14 years. Was born here, grew up here, went to the states and got educated, and now I am here and married. The only time my inlaws talk politics is when the want to push SGI politicians. Other than that, none of my business owning friends talk politics, none of my drinking friends talk politics nor do any of my military friends, US and Japanese talk about it. They could give a rat's butt.

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I was told by a Japanese person that voting is a waste of time, because it's like trying to select which you prefer from a cockroach and a louse.

Looking at Aso in particular, I feel I can understand that point of view.

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Why are Japanese so apathetic toward politics?

For the same reason why they are so apathetic towards everything else...

出るくぎは打たれる Deru kugi wa utareru

The nail which sticks out will get hammered

S

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Hey Spidey! I was gonna post the same thing, but thought it was off topic. However, I don't really think it's apathy. I think it's more to do with feeling insignificant and having no voice in society.

Does anybody know the percentage of adults who actually vote?

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I find there are two groups of foreigners here.... know better than to use a single adjective to describe all of the people in Japan.

hahaha

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Serindipity...

However, I don't really think it's apathy. I think it's more to do with feeling insignificant and having no voice in society.

And having to cope with this feeling for generations upon generations, it's no wonder that it has manifested itself into a feeling of apathy. As with the many daily routines that have become an art form in Japan, "The Art of Denial" is one of the finest.

S

S

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As long as the specialists maneuver and manipulate to enable the average J to concentrate resources on making a living, let each mind his own business and not interfere in what he's not qualified to handle. Look at student activists and political prisoners - how the rulers can waste their lives in Siberia, mow them down in Tiananmen, blacken Anwar's eye and nearly broke his neck, and be warned.

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I wouldnt say its apathy. Its more like they dont have the energy and they have been let down. They are tired of the nonsense. Once you have to start dealing with individuals who have power, youre out of luck. Japanese people just suck it up. They are great at doing that. I think they get scared because of corruption too. Their entire lives they are beat on mentally and as result dont push. Politics everywhere these days is a joke and the pressure required to change that doesn`t exist. People just get on with their lives in the end.

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I guess it was pretty dumb of me to say it is not apathy because feeling insignificant and having no voice in society is apathy. They just don't give a rat's donkey! 無関心

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This might seem like a bit of a stretch, but as a high school teacher, I fully believe this to be a true factor in the cause.

Uniforms and the Japanese education system.

Adolescence is the age of rebellion. It's also the age of being forced to wear uniforms in order to take part in society in Japan.

I've taught at some of the toughest schools around. Kids smoking freely in the hallways, heck, I've even seen things I couldn't describe on JT without getting the post removed.

But one thing I noticed, when a kid comes to class without their skirt or jacket, the teacher will not start the class until the students put on their uniforms.

This is where even the toughest kids learn "Shikatta ga nai" and give up.

So you have a country ruled by a single party for over half a century. That means one of two things:

a. people love the ruling party b. people don't believe there is way to change things

Well, if you get out and talk to people, you'll know that the ruling party is generally despised.

So there you have it, political apathy. Or as I like to call it, Political Impotence.

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Well, for some of the apathetic voters, their attitude is, "you can't fight city hall".

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BETTING,

You're right on the money. My Japanese in-laws never discuss politics, nor do they discuss anything of ANY serious import. I think this 'communication method' is to ensure that no topic ever gets anybody upset. Sorry, but I'm bored silly whenever I'm with these folks - and very appreciative of the fact that my wife herself is very interested in everything, including politics.

I'm also grateful that my better half, like me, doesn't watch television. Her family, like most other folks in Japan, are addicted to the horrid 'programming' here. Politics, like every other serious topic on the tube, is seriously dumbed down ... so we just switched to the internet, where there is literally a world of choice.

Yeah, the only people I've met in Tokyo who are seriously into political activity are SGI members ... they really get out the vote for THEIR candidates ... but you can't talk politics with them because they won't stop talking about their dear leader ... and why he, King and Ghandi are the three greatest peacemakers of all time. No matter that nobody has ever heard of the gentleman in the rest of the universe.

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How many high schools in Japan have a debating society? None of the five I've worked at. Mock elections around the time of the real political elections? Nothing like it, unless you count the school elections for student president which boils down to who is kakkoii and who has gammaned the hardest. Teachers do nothing whatsoever to encourage debate or opinion, which suits the useless bureacrats to a tee. They don't want the public to be interested in politics, so they keep the status quo not quite uncomfortable enough for the sheeple to get over their fear of changing it.

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Sex,Porn,Mangas are fun now,then why politics?

It is just the matter of 'Japan(U.S State) or Japan(Republic of China or Russia)'.

Can't wait to see the name change!

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Japanese are so soaked up into entertainment and work they don't really care what's happening around them.

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In the 2005 Japanese General Election voter turnout was 67 per cent. Up from previous years. The US Presidential voter turnout in 2004 was 56.2 per cent. In 2000 it was 49.3 per cent. http://www.jsps.go.jp/english/e-plaza/e-sdialogue/03_data/Dr_Richey.pdf

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Seems to me that anyone who's had representative democracy forced on them rather than building it from the grassroots, from the people, on their own initiative and from their own blood, sweat and tears (with rep. democracy as a goal), would rather naturally remain apathetic toward their own governance. The general apathy in Japan toward government and politics is no accident, most letting the "experts" (aka just another type of "talento" but with Diet pins) take care of things as they for the most part stay back and watch. Same general attitude toward doctors and probably many others in positions of authority/control/power.

Yes, such apathy can be found in other countries, like the States, but as an American I can say that the apathy and ignorance I see & experience in Japan are a lot deeper and more systemic. It is part of the "system", and the way people are "educated". Seems hard to have a true representative democracy when one's society and culture continually teach you & reward you to essentially stay mute, to be quiet, in the face of adverse conditions, lest you upset the status quo. (Hence, why gaiatsu on occasion has been effective through history.)

But, I have found that in neighborhood and very local politics, as I've seen in the States too, people do tend to get involved more, I imagine because they feel they can make a difference, have a real voice, actually BE the ones in control (and without having to get the certification), whereas at higher levels of government, the same folks tend to fall back and for various reasons meekly follow the so-called "experts".

Depends on the issue too. I think the number of people interested & wanting to get involved, learn about the issue, etc. would be very different between, say, Japan's involvement in Iraq & Afghanistan, whether or not foreigners should be fingerprinted, and the politics around building a brand-name flagship store or newfangled shopping complex somewhere (there is a growing NIMBYism here). Some issues will excite people to get involved beyond the cultural/societal blocks, others won't. Same everywhere, but different, too.

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buttamimi... I don't think voter turnout alone is a valid or true indication of people's active interest, understanding and involvement in politics or in their own governance.

Elections everywhere -- but I think more so in Japan with so much focus on talento and entertainment-ization of society -- tend to be more about who's more popular, not who has the skills to be an effective leader to address the issues. I think this is why Gov. Hashimoto in Osaka-fu has shaken things up so much among the OBs and apathetic populace. He dared to respond to the people who DID care to be involved (over Osaka's runaway debt problems) rather than just be another political figurehead collecting a fat paycheck as his successor Ota was.

Simply voting here in Japan to me doesn't say very much on its own.

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I work in a place full of intelligent up to date on the world people. Their jobs require that they know what is going on. Yet most have no interest or opinion in politics beyond how it impacts their interests at work. There is very little consideration of how politics impact their personal and daily lives. And they all have a "shoganai" attitude about the political situation.

I think one main reason is that there has been a lot of saved up family money here that has allowed most Japanese to carry on with their lives despite a long recession and downturn. But if that money dries up, then what? It will be too late.

To make Japanese in general care about politics you need to bring the reality of to them in a real and personal way.

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koizumi: Thank you for understanding.

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I don't care! Ooohhhpps! too apathetic.

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According to this survery: http://www.idea.int/vt/survey/voter_turnout_pop2-2.cfm

Japan comes 60th out of 140 countries in voter turnout for countries that have had two or more elections since WWII with 69% turnout.

Be interesting to see how that would skew if you just looked at the turnout for the last 25 years because I am sure the UK would not score as high as 74.9%.

Actually looking at the election breakdown other than 1995 (44.4%) it averages around 60% which these days I think is quite respectable.

I know I have said it before but polititions should retire at the national retirment age and politics should be taught as compulsory subjects at secondary school in all countries.

Those that do vote just vote the way of mummy and daddy except occaisionally the public get so hacked off they vote for a change - here's hoping next time round in Japan...

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IchyaParadise,

You are so very welcome.

Do you think Obama will pull it out?!

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I can understand because of their past. Things changed but not by will. The drive of the whole chnaging it together and suffering like other countries collectively is not really imbedded in this nation. There is just not enough of them, yet. I think that will change eventually.

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koizumi: I hope so. We really need change. But what I would be afraid of would ba assasination and stuff like that. Someone trying to be famous quick or someone trying to cleanse the world.

If he don't and the old guy gets it, I am afraid.

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This article's question is too general - There are protest occurring in Japan from time to time. ie the protest against the u.s. military in Okinawa / nuclear war ship in Yokosuka. Some Japanese actually do care about politics so the the question is void because it too general. Any one on the internet can see that there are Japanese who protest relating to politics.

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