politics

Bill lowering voting age to 18 passed in lower house

40 Comments

The lower house of the Diet on Thursday passed a bill to amend the Public Offices Election Law in order to lower the voting age in Japan from 20 to 18.

The bill will next go to the upper house where it is expected to be passed into law in mid-June. The proposed change would add some 2.4 million new voters to the electorate, granting them the right to participate in elections as soon as the summer of 2016, when a vote for the Diet's upper house will be held.

The move will bring Japan into line with other developed countries. Currently, 176 countries have the voting age at 18, while in only 14 countries, including Japan, it is 20.

Japan last changed its voting rules in the months after its 1945 surrender in World War II, altering the age at which citizens could cast their ballot from 25 to 20.

© Japan Today/AFP

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40 Comments
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Great! Age of criminal responsibility next?

11 ( +14 / -3 )

The outcome: that many more people who likely won't vote.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Unbelievable!

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

If voting age in many countries is 18 and up, this is good for Japan. I think Japanese youngsters are not confused of voting right and criminal responsibility type dumb adult.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Show me a Japanese person under 40 interested in, and knowledgable about, politics...!

13 ( +18 / -5 )

This is good news overall in terms of enabling those who are about to carry Japan's economic load and contribute more to the nation have a greater say in Japan's future. They may be somewhat more thoughtful in terms of what is good for Japan in the long run.

On the other hand, due largely to the state of Japan's educational curriculum, the nation's younger generation to me seem much more likely to vote for nationalistic leaders who whitewash Japan's history, which makes this lowering of the voting age good news for the Abe and the LDP.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

Japanese Education Ministry needs to revise Textbook and reference book of Shakai-ka rapidly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese under the age of 20 have trouble choosing fluffy toys let alone politicians...

19 ( +21 / -2 )

Brings the % any one govt gets in on the popular vote down even further.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Japanese under the age of 20 have trouble choosing fluffy toys let alone politicians...

Cue the LDP mascots. Suggestions, anyone?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Got to make it that you have to pay a fine if you don't vote a la in Australia.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Pointless. Rather than lowering the voting age to 18, Japan should switch to a system where every voter gets an equal vote. Right now the voting system in Japan counts the votes of rural and elderly people 2.3 times. Why should a young person bother to vote when his vote when his or her vote is deemed less valuable than someone else's?

This system is what has kept the LDP in power for generations. A small percentage of the people have long had a disproportionate amount of political power, while the majority of us get no voice in government, and get stuck with subsidising farmers and paying much higher costs for food.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Now all they need to do is hire AKB to promote politics and the circle is complete.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Agree with warispeace...apathy rules in Japan.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

nostromo Japanese under the age of 20 have trouble choosing fluffy toys let alone politicians...

As opposed to Japanese over the age of 20 have trouble choosing fluffy toys let alone politicians...???

I'll never forget the private english lesson I used to give to a 38 year old lady who insisted we do the english in her car. In addition to that her car was a shrine for Hello Kitty with a custom hello kitty stering wheel nontheless. She could vote.

Maybe allowing 18 year olds to vote would give them a little more interest in their country from an earlier age. I am also for lowering the drinking age to 18. That's the way it is in most western countries. Also it seems weird to allow 18 year olds to choose the politicians and the future of their country but not allow them to have a beer.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

About time.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This was a solution looking for a problem. Citizens in other countries can't vote on each others elections so why was this even an issue? It's weird that in a country where turning 20 is celebrated and marked as turning into an adult, this change happens. What happened to Japanese culture??

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Yeah, I'm sure they'll be dancing in the streets of Shibuya tonight.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Good move. Too many old peoples interests being looked out for in the house. I hope young Japanese voters exercise their right, and I hope politicians start appealing to that group of citizens who are likely to bear the brunt of this top heavy society, in the years to come.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

nostromo

Japanese under the age of 20 have trouble choosing fluffy toys let alone politicians...

Sadly I have to agree with you.

This problem of aged heavy societies not planning for the future, because the aged won't be around and don't give a damn about the society they will leave, is not just a Japanese problem, it's a problem of all developed societies which have given up fertility for materialism.

Lowering the voting age is not going to resolve it. In Japan's case because of the reason Nostromo has stated.

My solution would be an age - number of votes ratio. If you're 21 - 55, your vote is worth 3. If you're 55 - 65, your vote is worth 2. If you're 65+, your vote is worth 1.

Not just Japan, but all industrial societies need to implement this system. I'm in my 50s and I was lucky enough to grow up in a society conceived by the returning soldiers and their families of WW2. They wanted to build a better society for their children and grandchildren, than the one they grew up in, and were prepared to pay the taxes for it to happen. As a result health care was free, education (up to and including first degree university) was free and generous welfare for those less fortunate existed.

The older generations now are so selfish. They just want to keep all their wealth, even though they benefitted under the post-1945 model, and sod future generations.

I find the older Japanese the most selfish I have ever encountered. Not only do they not want the system that helped them to be available to the young, they don't seem to care what debts they leave to those not yet even born.

One person, one vote is dysfunctional in societies where people live so much longer, no matter what the voting age.

10 ( +12 / -2 )

Just in time for Abe's white-washed history texts to increase the vote for the LDP when he wants to change the constitution. If it's not simply for political gain, make the age of adulthood 18. Otherwise they're saying in Japan children can vote.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If every 18 - 20 year old voted perhaps Japan wouldn't be run for old people.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Well, the way I see it, if they're old enough to vote then they're old enough to be drafted into the new military. Only reason they want a non-thinker to vote for something as important as a rep choosing a PM is to put a cool TV personality on stage and act dumb. Kawaii! Sigh.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

How can they expect people to vote, when they aren't officially recognised as adults?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@onagagamoJUN. 05, 2015 - 07:44AM JST Show me a Japanese person under 40 interested in, and knowledgable about, politics...!

'''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''''

Easy. Just visit nearest Univ and visit Poli Sci Dept. Bunch of 18 years old Freshmen there.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

While I agree with any legislation that allows more people the right to vote, I'm in agreement with a lot of folks here that it probably won't make a huge difference. So much apathy & "shoganai" mentality among younger folks in Japan, sadly. The society doesn't look out people who aren't rich, older, or conservative in meaningful ways, so why try to change it, right? Nothing changes if you don't try.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Cue the LDP mascots. Suggestions, anyone?

How about a fluffy "Shin-chan" who spouts LDP policies in a cute voice when you rub his belly?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The government wouldn't be introducing this bill at all if they didn't think that 18 year olds were significantly ignorant of their history and world affairs to be "biddable" enough to elect their LDP candidates. These candidates in turn will start endorsing cute mascots to use in their campaigns. Why else would the LDP risk this move, empowering the one group of people who could potentially destroy the voting dominance of the elderly?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Bah America does let allies build bases in America. They even invited Japan to build a base to train pilots because America has a lot more Airspace but Japan refused.....

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Should raise the voting age in Japan to about 30+ years old. How many Japanese at 18 years old have the common sense to vote for a major political candidate?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

@Hawkeye not many. Sad cause these kids are actually very smart. Book smart, but not savvy on global topics, let alone domestic politics.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This has to be more comprehensive to avoid confusion. Voting age, drinking age, criminal responsibility, age of elected public officials, etc., all need to be identical. The current system seems rather disorganized.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What is the real motivation for this? I like the idea of lowering the age, but I am just wondering what the LDP really wants...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Hawkeye

Is Japan a nation of donkeys? The elderly (those who experienced a loss of voting freedom), a certain religious party and special interest groups (farmers, etc.) have historically been the only segments of society that can be relied on to vote. However, even they don't display "common sense" in their voting choices. Point in fact "Blinky" Ishihara used to win elections on the back of the elderly vote, who loved him for being a ersatz novelist and the brother of a good-looking (but bad) actor. Moreover, recent Japanese political history is littered with politicians who main claim to fame is being "celebrities" or "pro wrestlers" or ........ Not much common sense I'm afraid.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Vote Abe out!!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@gokai_wo_manekuJUN. 05, 2015 - 03:46PM JST Vote Abe out!!!

Then join LDP. If another party becomes majority, switch to them. The members of majority party are the only obes who can vote out Abe,

1 ( +1 / -0 )

18 years old to vote. Next bill that should be considered is to try18 year old criminals as adults.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@DaDude: This new law did not specify what kind of 18 years will get voting right. Please read article. It is obvious all 18 ands older get voting right. It never discriminated adults criminals in past either/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

If you are not considered an adult until 20 and there be no candidate aged 18 or 19 running even for the dog-catcher's position (then again I'd be surprised if they know that there is a leash law in force throughout Japan today), how do you expected them to become "fully engaged" in the political system? BTW I personally think this law is the result of a certain Tochigi politician wishing to leave his mark on history; somehow I'm reminded of a quip made by John Nance Garner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A majority of Shugiin Gins wanted youngsters to vote so that they will oppose militarization of Japan

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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