politics

Japan lowers voting age, but are young ready to vote?

49 Comments
By SATOSHI SUGIYAMA

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49 Comments
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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.”

I just wish the rest of the population would think like this guy. I give him credit for taking the time to vote and to research his candidate of choice. Well done!

I thought, ‘Now I can deliver my voice and I am no longer a child,’” she said.

Sorry to pop your bubble, and by rights you SHOULD be considered an adult but you are still an under-age person by law. Here is to hoping that the laws of this country catch up!

Thank you for voting!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Seeing the title I expected it to have been lowered at 16

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The answer is no.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Well, there's mental age and physical age.

Those voting for the LDP have a mental age of a two year old/

0 ( +7 / -7 )

The younger the better! Reason being a naive youngster having a stab at politics is far better than an older person who has been brainwashed by shite.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

most young Japanese have trouble choosing a fluffy toy let alone a politician....

7 ( +10 / -3 )

a perception that the opinions of young people are not reflected in policies

That's no problem, since there is also a perception that the opinions of old people are not reflected in policies.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is revolutional. The best thing is that all Japanese now have a place to receive formal education about democracy and votings at schools. Until now people voted without receiving formal education about democracy and votings.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

Japan lowers voting age, but are young ready to vote?

Well, if they're not, us foreigners are.

most young Japanese have trouble choosing a fluffy toy let alone a politician....

not just the young.

Those voting for the LDP have a mental age of a two year old/

or are right wing nuts itching for a war with China.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Yeah well they have the right to vote as a adult..but still tried as a minor this is Japan so things are a bit backwards I suppose...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@ThePBot, You are correct, and beat me to it.

Simply, they have not been brought up to speed on the issues at hand. Without the proper informational background, how can an informed decision be made?

Also, at the top level, one would be simply picking a party, which then installs the people who will tow the party's line.

It is my understanding this system was created due to the masses could not understand the political process. So, instead of teaching them, via civics lessons in jr. high, ... the system maintained sheeple.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So... This means they can also drink and smoke, right? If the j gov sees them eligible to vote.... Surely!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Less than 5% of the students at the college I work intended to vote and the ones that were going to vote had no idea who to vote for or why.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The government and political parties are using various strategies to motivate 18-and 19-year-olds to vote, but it remains unclear whether they will — and whether they are prepared to do so. Some experts say they aren’t, at least for this election, citing reasons such as growing up in a society that emphasizes conformity over individuality, few opportunities to learn about and debate the issues and a perception that the opinions of young people are not reflected in policies.

This is the problem. It's not a matter of being 'ready to vote', but a wider problem of how information is delivered & interpreted. To put it simply, the Japanese media is far from 'open', lacking investigative journalism on real issues & what would otherwise be considered as 'healthy debate' in the form of press broadcasts and TV panels. In Japan, your opinion counts for nothing & decades of Old Boys' Club rule have ensured that this will not change for decades to come. Lowering the voting age is utterly pointless in this 'democracy'.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Less than 5% of the students at the college I work intended to vote and the ones that were going to vote had no idea who to vote for or why.

Aby party that has not pledged to abolish Article 9 will do. This election is extremely relevant to Japan's youth. They are the ones who will be conscripted into the SDF in the future. People are missing the bigger picture here.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So... This means they can also drink and smoke, right? If the j gov sees them eligible to vote.... Surely!

AND join the SDF, which they can do at 18.

BTW, They can smoke all they want if they get a PT job in an izakaya or coffee shop..In fact, they WILL smoke whether they want to or not- second hand style.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My students at university (barring a few who are politically 'switched on') are largely apathetic when it comes to politics. Many of the students whom I asked, told me they will indeed vote but they'll get advice from their parents first. That, to me, says that they'll probably end up copying their parent's vote. Maybe that's why Abe got the voting age lowered? - he knew that many young voters would end up copying their parents (their parents are in their late 40s - 50ish and are largely in support of Abe's lot) and that will likely keep Abe 's party in power.

The fact that young Japanese are basically schooled not to think independently and to follow their elders (parents/sempai etc) falls right into Abe's hands.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

The question is not whether the young are "ready" to vote, but were they properly "prepared" to participate in society responsibly.

But as many is pointing out, the other questions are why this and why now?

If this like the USA is to increase the voter numbers for election purposes and justify "mandate" fort those in power, it may become a major social problem manipulated by politicians for their own end.

If this was a method to "prepare" the youths to possible conscription, as is the trending in the USA, then it points to an undesirable trend, but possibly an urgently needed one.

If this was to force participation early, even with possible negative consequences to prepare for the lack of sustaining adult population with aging population that has no effective contribution to society even if they were to vote, and the low birth rate that reduces future participants in the political and social-economic process of the country, then we must wait and see.

The problem also has to do with age and social-political right to participate and to what extent.

But the important thing to consider is really at what level and with what criteria will these young voters evaluate the situation, circumstances and environment they are in and what kinds of values are being used to determine their votes.

That is regardless of what effect numerically they may have in the election. It is "whom" with what kind of "values" with what "objectives" they are influenced or coerced and decide to choose and vote for. That will affect the future of Japan.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

From conversations with Japanese citizens, people tend to vote for the group who is already in control, for the group that there local official is a member, or for the people that their parents support. It just seems easier that way for them.

Anyone with a lot of time in Japan knows that most controversial issues are preferred to be kept on a surface level only. I am surprised no one hasn't tried little cute mascots or sexy prepubescent girls to get the young people to vote.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Yeah well they have the right to vote as a adult..but still tried as a minor this is Japan so things are a bit backwards I suppose...

Only in Japan? In the US if you are in the military you can legally kill before you can legally drink in many areas.

Those voting for the LDP have a mental age of a two year old/

What then is mental age of those who have voted for Donald Trump?

It is my understanding this system was created due to the masses could not understand the political process. So, instead of teaching them, via civics lessons in jr. high, ... the system maintained sheeple.

I'd like to see you demonstrate that the Japanese who have voted for the LDP are more "sheeple" than the people who put George Bush in office or who have put Donald Trump where he is.

This is the problem. It's not a matter of being 'ready to vote', but a wider problem of how information is delivered & interpreted. To put it simply, the Japanese media is far from 'open', lacking investigative journalism on real issues & what would otherwise be considered as 'healthy debate' in the form of press broadcasts and TV panels.

Sunday morning television is filled with programs taking up political issues. The "lacking investigative journalism on real issues" is a cliche. How much investigative journalism did the US and UK media do about the claims of Bush, Cheney, and Blair that led to the invasion of Iraq?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/07/world/europe/chilcot-report.html

Maybe that's why Abe got the voting age lowered? - he knew that many young voters would end up copying their parents (their parents are in their late 40s - 50ish and are largely in support of Abe's lot) and that will likely keep Abe 's party in power.

Lowering the voting age had the support of all parties. It was not just an Abe strategy.

The fact that young Japanese are basically schooled not to think independently and to follow their elders (parents/sempai etc) falls right into Abe's hands.

Are young people anywhere schooled to think independently? Maybe the US has changed but church run schools in the Chicago area in the 50s-60s (my experience) definitely did not stress independent thinking. And a very large cohort of Americans had the kind of education I did.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Ask your average 18 year old what he wants from his politicians and hear the sound of one hand clapping.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@bullfighter

I'd like to see you demonstrate that the Japanese who have voted for the LDP are more "sheeple" than the people who put George Bush in office or who have put Donald Trump where he is.

You can't even compare the two (being Japan & the US). In fact, comparing the Japanese political climate to the likes of China or Russia would be more accurate. At least in the US there is plenty of debate, critique - and that's just what's covered in the media. The average Joe / Jane is far more in-tune with the policies on both sides and can thus make a more informed choice (yes, I'm aware you used Bush as your example).

The LDP has been in power for eternity, and Abe will inevitably retain power. Unbelievable, yet sadly a reflection of the state of Japanese society. Society only has its collective self to blame. Don't be the nail that sticks up - keep the wa*!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I have questions relating to vote system itself. First the fact to go and vote when you want: it drastically reduces the importance of event. I am still asking mysmelf who that student could already have a walk and vote like if going to toilets. Then the location: "temporary polling site set up on a university campus", although convenient, it is all but a neutral location, where I assume other student mates see you and so gives pressure to the act itself. In my country, you don't mix up a place where there is currently teaching and vote, brainwashing is then so easy by a fellow or senior...we all know how sheepish is a Japanese. At least we should. I appreciate bullfighter's hindsight, but telling Japanese can get informed about political issues on Sunday mornings for instance is the same error of thought as saying that Japanese could decide their way of life: society "kills" the one standing up for his new/specific opinion all the more so as one is young. Knowing age of Bullfighter, you are in category of age where for sure Japanese are allowed to express to a certain level, since they become persons with little recognized nuisance "power", for most of them (reduced work activity, less financial capacity, reduced physical dynamism...) I totally agree that other countries are no white, but in Japan it is Sheep land for politics. Never had any political discussion with any Japanese during my last 15 years not even close to the level of an 18 year old of my country !

2 ( +4 / -2 )

They will have been studying English for 6 or 7 years by then, so should be able to write the letter "x" in a box. Just.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@bullfighter

It really gets tiring, always jumping to a strawman argument about the U.S. when the subject is Japan. I think I can see your agenda.

The fact that there is little, to none, open dialogue and encouragement to think and make decisions for one's self through the 'educational' process here certainly takes a toll at important times like voting, for example.

But hey, it's 'your country'. I only pay taxes and contribute to society here in positive ways. If you want to support the people and mechanisms that are sending 'your country' further down the whole (while dragging people like me with them), I certainly can't stop you.

But seriously, there are more than 2 societies on this large rock...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

should be able to write the letter "x" in a box. Just.

You realise that in a Japanese election, marking 'x' in a box means a spoiled ballot? Voters are required to write the name of the candidate they want to vote for. There is provision for those who cannot write (braille machines for the blind, proxy voting for the illiterate, etc.) but no 'x's in boxes.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Simply, they have not been brought up to speed on the issues at hand.

How do you know? I was watching a report on this on TV the other day. They had set up various stations to teach the kids how to vote, and give them information on how to look into the various parties to decide how they want to vote. They also interviewed a bunch of kids, and their answers were quite good. Many said they wouldn't vote because they didn't have the information to make an informed decision, but the ones who did intend to vote discussed how they had been researching the issues and looking at the different candidates, in order to be able to make an informed decision.

Which sounds exactly like kids in my home country - when I was 19 or 20, the first election I was allowed to vote in, many of my friends didn't vote because they didn't know who to vote for. I voted, as did others of my friends, because we knew what we were voting on.

Japan lowers voting age, but are young ready to vote?

Well, if they're not, us foreigners are.

The Japanese are ready for you to as well - you just have to go apply for citizenship. Then you can vote to your heart's content.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Pointless

1 ( +1 / -0 )

the Japanese media is far from 'open', lacking investigative journalism on real issues

The west media is far worse that's why US keeps going wars with the excuse that "US was attacked" US media is not only not functioning but also an accomplice.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Strangerland

They also interviewed a bunch of kids, and their answers were quite good. Many said they wouldn't vote because they didn't have the information to make an informed decision

And why do you supposed that is? See, this is the point. The root of the problem. I'm afraid that bullfighter & yourself cannot see the forest for the trees. As others have (tirelessly) made the point, the problem isn't about the voting law itself - it's the delivery of information. Japan is something like 54th on the global 'freedom of the press' rankings - falling further down the list with each passing year.

I remember back home having political assignments & class content in primary (elementary) school! Learning the electoral process at the age of 10! In Japan, it's 'go with the crowd' followed by 'shouganaina' year after year after year. People aren't informed because the Old Boys' Club has a vice grip on what makes it to the news - like state media in oppressive regimes. Sorry to say but Japan is doomed. The LDP have utterly destroyed any chance of Japan moving forward in the forseeable future.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

How many month/years were the new voters given to understand politics, etc. No need for extra classes.

This was a simple stunt by the LDP to bolster votes my

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It really gets tiring, always jumping to a strawman argument about the U.S. when the subject is Japan. I think I can see your agenda.

It really gets tiring reading people always knocking Japan when the US is in a far worse situation for just about every subject that comes up. And, since most posters use relative terminology to describe Japan and the Japanese, they presumably have some notion of where things are better. Some even cite specific countries, most commonly the US.

But seriously, there are more than 2 societies on this large rock..

I know. I have legal residency in Britain and spend part of the year there.

Japan is something like 54th on the global 'freedom of the press' rankings - falling further down the list with each passing year.

Worse than that, but those rankings are about as bogus as it gets. They put Korea higher on their index than Japan even though Korea prosecutes (and jails) bloggers and journalists. In Korea the courts are used to limit what historians can write. In Korea the government says it will start writing history textbooks to make sure kids get the right understanding of history. Yet, they rank Korea higher than Japan.

https://rsf.org/en

In short, their rankings are totally political and totally bogus. And, for the record the big drop in the ranking of Japan came under the DPJ and not the LDP.

They claim to have a “sophisticated methodology” for ranking press freedom but as far as I have been able to determine from reading their materials and asking around among journalists, most of the ranking comes from the survey responses of a small number of lefties in each country.

If press freedom was really as bad as their rankings show, Japan Today would have disappeared long ago.

The Japanese are ready for you to as well - you just have to go apply for citizenship. Then you can vote to your heart's content.

Indeed, and in Japan voter registration is automatic. If you are a citizen you are registered. There is no pattern of trying to limit the registration of ethnic minorities or low income people as there is in the US. (Britain also has essentially automatic registration.)

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

but are young ready to vote?

Why don't you ask the same question when it comes to older people?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Those under 20 seem to be classed as children under the laws of responsibility. If true then the votes of those children should have little validity.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japanese 18 year olds are no better or worse that 18 year olds in other countries.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The Japanese are ready for you to as well - you just have to go apply for citizenship. Then you can vote to your heart's content.

We're talking about foreign suffrage. If you naturalize,its a different topic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We're talking about foreign suffrage. If you naturalize,its a different topic.

Nope. You can vote if you want to. You choose not to. That's not suffrage.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Nope. You can vote if you want to. You choose not to. That's not suffrage.

Many foreigners would like to vote. And as others have told you before, its not as simple as that.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Many foreigners would like to vote.

And many would like to be rich without working, or to see a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end, or whatever.

And as others have told you before, its not as simple as that.

Sure it is. Of course there are more considerations to it, but the fact remains that the choice is there for those who want to take it, and therefore it's not suffrage.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Sure it is.

no its not.

Of course there are more considerations to it,

Understatement

but the fact remains that the choice is there for those who want to take it, and therefore it's not suffrage.

No. Some people have circumstances that don't allow them to naturalize. To say that it is their choice is ridiculous.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sure it is.

no its not.

Shall we go in circles a few more times? Sure it is.

Understatement

And yet still correct.

No. Some people have circumstances that don't allow them to naturalize.

Such as?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Shall we go in circles a few more times? Sure it is.

Its not. And I've got all day.

And yet still correct.

Nope.

No. Some people have circumstances that don't allow them to naturalize. Such as?

Obviously, you have no Iranian friends. If you did you should know that they cannot give up their citizenship BY LAW, and as such they cannot get Japanese citizenship. Many of my iranian friends are in that situation.

I too am in that situation as I hold dual citizenship in Syria. Syria has the same citizenship rules as Iran. We can NEVER relinquish our citizenship. So please don't talk about you don't understand. Many Iranians have been trying to naturalize and the gov. has used this loophole to keep them from it.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Shall we go in circles a few more times? Sure it is.

Its not.

Other than the fact that it is, your statement is 100% correct.

Obviously, you have no Iranian friends. If you did you should know that they cannot give up their citizenship BY LAW, and as such they cannot get Japanese citizenship. Many of my iranian friends are in that situation.

Iranians are no the only country that cannot renounce their citizenship. The Japanese government does not require that one give up their citizenship, they require that one declare an intention to give up their citizenship. After acquiring Japanese citizenship, they need to go to their embassies, and get a written certification that their home country will not let them drop their citizenship. This shows that they had the intent, and satisfies the rule of Japanese law.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

That ends discussion on this point.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

your statement is 100% correct.

that's the only sensible thing you said all day.

Iranians are no the only country that cannot renounce their citizenship.

As I just told you, I have syrian citizenship

The Japanese government does not require that one give up their citizenship, they require that one declare an intention to give up their citizenship. After acquiring Japanese citizenship, they need to go to their embassies, and get a written certification that their home country will not let them drop their citizenship. This shows that they had the intent, and satisfies the rule of Japanese law.

No. I do have friends who have tried to get citizenship and were denied. The gov uses it as a loophole. What you have described above does not apply to everyone. There are people who want to be citizens and can't.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Too bad for them.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

which is why we need foreign suffrage

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Nope. Not at all necessary.

And in all honesty, I'm skeptical about your claim about Iranians. I looked around in both English and Japanese, and couldn't find a single example.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Nope. Not at all necessary.

For you, I agree.

And in all honesty, I'm skeptical about your claim about Iranians. I looked around in both English and Japanese, and couldn't find a single example.

Be as skeptical as you like. I really don't care. I have friends in that situation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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