politics

Japan's alienated youth overlooked in elections

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By Harumi Ozawa

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The young will pay for their disinterest in this with heavy taxes and the burden of looking after the mess the old farts having and continue to create. Kiss goodbye decent medical and pension. What a waste.

13 ( +15 / -3 )

"“One main reason why we don’t vote is that we don’t have any information. We don’t know what they say at their meetings,” she said. “And when they do tell us, we don’t really grasp the meaning of what they say.”

If you're 20 years old and can't bother buying and reading a newspaper, and can't understand Japanese, then maybe you shouldn't vote.

9 ( +14 / -6 )

It's rather easy to overlook the youth when the so called youth dont seem to give a whit about participating in the political process nor learn enough about the issues at hand to make valid choices regarding any of the parties.

Many are more interested in their next iphone or when Mom or Dad is going to give them more allowance money than participate in an election.

Sure there are exceptions to the rule and what I wrote above is MY OPINION!

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Too many comments are bashing the young, while the article clearly states that there is no interest in attracting votes from them in the first place.

The way I understood it, a politician who wants to maximize his chances of success will groom the elderly because they are the ones who cast more votes (maybe because they are easier to agree with since they are in the same age range). Consequently, using social media would be meaningless since the elderly cannot use it (also, everyone seems afraid of new technology and/or change, so let's support the old proven formula).

If all of this is true, I feel even more saddened by the current state of affairs. I understand that a politician would want to enrich himself as much as possible while he is in office (that happens everywhere and is all but inevitable), but how come it seems there is no foresight, no plan for the future, no vision? Are they just content that they will not be around when the country has completely sunk? It is just so hard to believe, but the evidence is there, plain to see.

God help us.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The more I read about J politics the more I feel Japan is doomed. It is painting it's self into a corner and nobody seems to care. The young are apathetic, not realizing their one vote could change everything. The the older generation only care about themselves with no thought for their children or grandchildren. Politicians are only in politics for themselves and simply work to appease the largest voting pool with no consideration for the future...and then when they get elected they don't even care about upholding their promises. ...and now the 'people' are set to vote in a guy who quit his job in under a year!!!! Do they have a death wish??? Don't they see they are ALL killing their own country???

5 ( +8 / -3 )

Dog: I think the same. But from my little japanese experience with very young japanese children, the 15 first years they are trained like military and brainwashed. How can you expect them to be rebels? (I mean true rebels, not just fashionistas rebels)

5 ( +7 / -2 )

If one ever wonders how Ignorant Japanese are of important political events in Japan, all one has to do is ask him/her in what year World War 2 ended. It is perhaps the seminal event year/event of the Japanese modern era. In my experience when I ask Japanese college age students this extremely basic question, more often than not the students get it wrong (sometimes as much as 30 years off). And if I were ever to ask these Japanese students the short and long term significance of the war (something I would do with American students), these students would have absolutely no clue. Absolutely none. In fact I would get much better answers from American elementary school students.This is not an exaggeration but rather a sad illustration of how immature and unsophisticated this country actually is. Such astounding political apathy has a direct relationship on the sterile and impotent functionality of the government of Japan.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

The LDP is the party of the rural old whose pork-belly politics is a tax on the young. The DPJ's deflation is a tax on the young.

If you were young and Japanese, who is there to vote for?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Nigelboy This statistics you provide may be true but all one needs to do is talk to the typical Canadian/American college student to find that their is an enormous disparity in the knowledge of their respective political systems, policies, and issues. I work at a respectable university in Tokyo and when I ask these students to get together and list the differences between the various political parties in Japan, they are incapable. Perhaps one or two students out of 30 could do a passable job. I then have to spend the next 30 minutes explaining the differences and have then a mock election. I have done this exercise perhaps 30 times over the last ten years. At the end the students always seem very giddy because they finally have learned something they knew existed in an abstract way but never bothered to learn themselves.

And when there are political rallies (the ones I have seen) in Japan, very rarely have I ever seen a young person participating in anyway. This is simply not the case in the US or Canada. Most educated young people are aware of the political parties and issues at hand. The popularity of politics in North America is also reflective in the very fact that there are entire (24 hr channels) dedicated to politics. The content and contributors on these channels span all age demographics.

Most Japanese young people's knowledge of politics consists of soundbites and sensational stories. They seem content with the stays quo as long as they are able rent their CDS, hang out with their friends, and be part of a group. I know this sounds like Japan bashing but unfortunately it's the truth

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I guess the AKB48 campaign didn't work. - I can't really blame the youth of Japan. I know many people in their early to mid 20's and they are much more disillusioned than I am. Speaking to young people about their thoughts for the future of Japan is downright depressing! Most of them want a more modern society and want to break free of the traditional ties, but they all know that the imperialistic jijis want to return Japan to the way it was 50 years ago, but the world has changed a lot in the last fifty years, which is something these old fools can't seem to grasp.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Since the parties only represent handouts to the corporate or aged society, the under 40's are wholly under-represented. There's NO ONE for whom they should vote. Best option is to vote with one's feet while the option is available.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

IowanDec. 14, 2012 - 10:33PM JST

Soon enough some dynamic, tech-savy 20-somthing will use social media to rally young voters to political action on issues that matter to them, changing the status quo and fundamentally altering the matter and direction of Japanese politics

and end up in prison on some trumped up charge.

Horie did.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Basroil, I didn't make those comments - take a look at the original poster for that.

And yet the voter turnout for the younger generation is lower than that of Japan. How do you explain this?

Easy. The parties running aren't all that different and aren't talking about doing frightening things that affect their future. When Quebec wanted to separate, the young vote was out there. I can promise you that if some old git like Ishihara was running about trying to make Canada a nuke country and kept stating he wanted war, young Canadians would be out voting in extremely high numbers. That, however, is not happening here.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In the numerous political TV ads I have seen and by looking at pictures on election signboards, I have noticed a number of young candidates from various parties. It seems that these young candidates should be able to reach out to the young voters. From the above story, it seems that they just aren't doing it. So looks as if we're going to be stuck once again with the old boys from the LDP. As "tmarie" said above, it is the young who will suffer from their disinterest in the long run.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This area is one of the ONLY reasons I like Osaka-Cities resident semi-nazi leader Hashimoto. He uses social networking and I remember him saying a couple of weeks ago that he didnt give a sleeping duck about it, and he had no intention of stopping.

I definitely would be in favour of social networking as a tool in elections - its a heck of a lot more quiet than those awful noisy speaker vans which are blaring at the moment... ><

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I would be a 20's japanese now, I would leave the country and seek generation asylum in another country. I would be the first generational refugee.

Joke apart, frankly speaking what can do the young ones? None care about them here and they are voluntarily discarded.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Vienna1sausage: the fact is that Japan is actually a male senioritycracy. In family, in corporate, in yakuza and in politics.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Good post and says it all. The young here have only themselves to blame for the future that awaits them.

But are the young to be blamed for this lack of interest or knowledge? I think there are a number of factors including the crappy educational system, clueless child rearing, and the unwillingness of the political establishment to reach out to young voters that are at fault. Yes, they are apathetic in general, but it's not like the older generations really taught them the importance of being aware.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

tmarieDec. 14, 2012 - 11:07PM JST

I wouldn't say Horie's charges were trumped. He just took a beating when if it was someone from the old boy's club, everyone would have looked the other way. He ticked off people with his arrogance which is what got him in trouble.

No disagreement here, but it's exactly as you said, if he hadn't challenged Japan Inc, they would have looked the other way.

Nobody gets to the top in Japan with clean hands. Whether those dirty hands get you in trouble, depends on whether you accept the status quo.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If the younger generation were to look up to anyone it would have most likely been Hashimoto but I suspect everything wore out when he made the single largest mistake in deciding to team up with Ishihara who along with other members of the Sun Party ended up revealing themselves to be nothing other an even more conservative (and certainly older) version of the LDP. If Hashimoto tied up with Watanabe majority of the urban votes still going to DPJ including additional votes from the younger generation would have gone to them thereby enabling them to fare better with the LDP. With LDP in such a strong position in no absolute need of a coalition Hashimoto has shown a perfect example of what happens when one tries to go after two (if not three) "hares" in my view.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Heck, alienated gaijin ( or should I say gaijinated aliens ) are also being overlooked in this election!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

I agree, young people have no right to complain that all the tax money is being spend on old people rather than supporting young people's education etc.

Strange even the young dashing Hashimoto can't get them to vote. Those youngsters probably scared off by his scarry partner Ishihara.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm not sure about "not making efforts engage" the youth of Japan. Just take a look at the photo. The guy behind Abe has a YELLOW sweater and has almost hidden his bald spot. I call that trying!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

This says it all about the system thinking about the young people of Japan "a campaign that excluded social media and made little effort to engage them" they (the media and the politicians and the bureaucrats ) didn't want them to vote. Here's hoping they shock them all Sunday by turning out in huge numbers and upsetting the so called conclusion (thats if we're to believe the media). I live in hope !!!!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A democratic society gets the government they deserve. Japanese "young people" are only interested in their own inner sphere. They have absolutely no interest in anything that extends beyond them. They are extremely ignorant of not only international affairs but domestic affairs as well. Trying to have a conversation with a university aged student about politics is an exercise in futility. This country is going down the tubes.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

**That because the young deserved to be bashed. I work with the creme of Japanese youth, all post graduates from either Keio, Todai or Tohoku Science, and having worked in many countries, I can honestly say that they are by far the most ignorant and lazy tertiary educated product that I ever worked with. Why would any politician centre any attention on them? They'll all be busy pawing manga and watching talentos shovel food down their mouths, when Sunday comes along.

Not only are they ignorant and lazy, but they take a certain pride in that ignorance, as if it's some national calling. Not being able to find Taiwan on a map, to many of them, confirms their japaneseness and knowledge of their country was implanted into their DNA, so why do they even have to look at a newspaper, when all they need to know can be found in manga?**

Well at least you get to work with them - I work with the others! Some are with it, most are not. They aren't to blame. Their parents are. Their parents spoiled them and let them become the mange reading, AKB48 loving ignorant and lazy youth that they are. Moms too busy with hobbies and PTA, dads too busy with work and this is what they've produced. The school system has let them down, the elders have let them down... I don't blame THEM for the way they are but I do blame them for not stepping up and taking interest in their futures.

Basroil, no one represents them because they haven't demanded anyone represent them. Until they actually realise this, they won't be looked after. Some of them do indeed care but so few and far between. Again, I blame their parents. I hope their parents are saving their pennies because the youth of today won't be able to afford to look after their parents and nor do they want to. I don't blame them considering the mess those over 50 have left for the youth and 20-30 years olds to clean up.

That all being said, how many of those voting are swayed by Ishihara, Abe and Hashimoto who want to spend more tax money and ignore all the issues? Far too many in my opinion.

1 ( +3 / -3 )

Dog: you really underestimate the seniority power, which is THE power in Japan.

I agree that the young people could do more and try to make a political party for instance. But how to achieve that when none will support financially, when you will get ostracized by your friends and family, when you will not find a job because of that? When you might be at threat from the Yakuza? And ultimately it will end to no change because of the age pyramid?

Everything is possible, but to change this would be a Titan task.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I don't think he challenged them. He did EXACTLY what they were all doing but was arrogant and flamboyant about it all - which was the issue.

No one gets to the top in any country with clean hands. Why people think some do is beyond me. I certainly don't agree with it but those who move up make enemies and deal with that however they can. Regardless, off topic. The point is the youth here haven't been raised to care about their futures nor care about politics. It will bite them in the butts in the years to come - though really, it already is with job hunting and the like.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

tmarieDec. 14, 2012 - 11:29PM JST

I don't think he challenged them.

Fuji TV ???????

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yubaru - It's rather easy to overlook the youth when the so called youth dont seem to give a whit about participating in the political process nor learn enough about the issues at hand to make valid choices regarding any of the parties.

Did you know when you were in your twenties? Really? I voted for the marijuana party for most of my 20's

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Ok Nigel I see the light. The youth of Japan are just as politically astute as their counterparts in western countries. This (of course) includes social and modern historical polices/events as well.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Regardless of who people vote, the chosen leader will still be facing humongous problems that cannot be evaded (graying population, mountainous debt, economy, energy etc.). I completely understand why the young ones are not into voting. The result is the same anyway, so why vote?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Too many Japanese need to be better educated about the political realities of this country!!! The old ass people here in Japan are just getting ready to either enter old folks

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I wouldn't say Horie's charges were trumped. He just took a beating when if it was someone from the old boy's club, everyone would have looked the other way. He ticked off people with his arrogance which is what got him in trouble.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nigelboy Since you mention "past posts". I took the time to read your post history and was not at all surprised to that they display a very narrow minded right wing leaning, and all the silliness that goes along with them. And...where did I claim to be an "expert"? I am just sharing my personal experience . Perhaps it would be a good idea to counter my post with a rational argument with substance rather than visceral responses. Seems like hid a nerve Nigel.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Dog,

you have stated everything EXACTLY the way I feel about Japanese youth. It all boils down to poor Japanese education, poor parenting skill, political corruption......they cannot grasp what's going on beyond AKB48 in "dekinai" culture. More I read, more I am pessmistic about future of Japan. Japanese I met here in US cannot even speak Japanese properly-"tabereru?", "yareru?" . What do we expect? Japan is doomed.

Open MindedDec. 14, 2012 - 07:13PM JST

I would be a 20's japanese now, I would leave the country and seek generation asylum in another country. I would be the first generational refugee.

You are not kidding, Many Japanese I have talked to here in US are seriously thinking about this.They do not want to go back to Japan. However, immigration law is getting tougher focusing only on highly skilled applicants. We are not accepting just anyone any more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

japanese society is highly sensitive to world opinion and so things are getting tougher day by day. What Israel could have done in an episode like SENKYOKU islands is unimaginable in Japan. So a vague policy by state whosoever in power alianates the youth

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Open MindedDec. 14, 2012 - 11:37PM JST

Dog; sensible arguments and outstanding rhetoric. Hope you do the same with your students. And hope you will keep your job ... Good luck!

Wow, no freedom of speech for professors in Japan? Wow....I am speechless.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They'll find their own way, in their own time.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

ImpersonatorDec. 14, 2012 - 07:43PM JST

Too many comments are bashing the young, while the article clearly states that there is no interest in attracting votes from them in the first place.

That because the young deserved to be bashed. I work with the creme of Japanese youth, all post graduates from either Keio, Todai or Tohoku Science, and having worked in many countries, I can honestly say that they are by far the most ignorant and lazy tertiary educated product that I ever worked with. Why would any politician centre any attention on them? They'll all be busy pawing manga and watching talentos shovel food down their mouths, when Sunday comes along.

Not only are they ignorant and lazy, but they take a certain pride in that ignorance, as if it's some national calling. Not being able to find Taiwan on a map, to many of them, confirms their japaneseness and knowledge of their country was implanted into their DNA, so why do they even have to look at a newspaper, when all they need to know can be found in manga?

-1 ( +5 / -6 )

Soon enough some dynamic, tech-savy 20-somthing will use social media to rally young voters to political action on issues that matter to them, changing the status quo and fundamentally altering the matter and direction of Japanese politics. Or not.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

tmarieDec. 14, 2012 - 03:39PM JST

The young will pay for their disinterest in this with heavy taxes and the burden of looking after the mess the old farts having and continue to create. Kiss goodbye decent medical and pension.

Pointlessly insulting the young doesn't help.

The main issue isn't disinterest, it's that NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE YOUTH IN THIS COUNTRY. Not a single politician campaigned for young adults, they only campaign for old farts that only care about their unethical pensions and for middle aged parents with young kids. And even if there were people that represented them, they simply don't make up enough of the electorate to matter anyway. It's not apathy, it's complete disillusion with the prospect of proper representation.

-2 ( +5 / -7 )

Dog; sensible arguments and outstanding rhetoric. Hope you do the same with your students. And hope you will keep your job ... Good luck!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"The young will pay for their disinterest in this with heavy taxes and the burden of looking after the mess the old farts having and continue to create. Kiss goodbye decent medical and pension. "

Soo....Like the U.S. Then

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Vienna1sausageDec. 14, 2012 - 07:33PM JST

A democratic society gets the government they deserve. Japanese "young people" are only interested in their own inner sphere. They have absolutely no interest in anything that extends beyond them. They are extremely ignorant of not only international affairs but domestic affairs as well. Trying to have a conversation with a university aged student about politics is an exercise in futility.

Good post and says it all. The young here have only themselves to blame for the future that awaits them.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I am just sharing my personal experience . Perhaps it would be a good idea to counter my post with a rational argument with substance rather than visceral responses. Seems like hid a nerve Nigel.

OK. Let me try.

And when there are political rallies (the ones I have seen) in Japan, very rarely have I ever seen a young person participating in anyway. This is simply not the case in the US or Canada. Most educated young people are aware of the political parties and issues at hand. The popularity of politics in North America is also reflective in the very fact that there are entire (24 hr channels) dedicated to politics. The content and contributors on these channels span all age demographics.

And yet the voter turnout for the younger generation is lower than that of Japan. How do you explain this? What's the psychology behind "I'll participate but I won't vote." Despite having a 24 hour station like C-SPAN, why is U.S. voter turnout so notoriously low compared to other developed countries?

Logic and common sense tells me that your "personal" experience are very far from reality, me thinks.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

tmarieDec. 14, 2012 - 10:14PM JST

That because the young deserved to be bashed. I work with the creme of Japanese youth, all post graduates from either Keio, Todai or Tohoku Science, and having worked in many countries, I can honestly say that they are by far the most ignorant and lazy tertiary educated product that I ever worked with.

That's why the engineering students I work with stay in the lab doing experiments until 7pm or so, and then go to their part-time job or are looking for jobs. Most of them lack education in world matters, but that's because of the rigid pro-japan eduction that the old farts impose on them.

Why would any politician centre any attention on them? They'll all be busy pawing manga and watching talentos shovel food down their mouths, when Sunday comes along.

Odd, of the dozens of students I regularly have contact with only a handful read more than one manga or actually care about "talents". Most of them read novels and research papers, many don't even watch TV all too much because most of the shows are geared towards highschool and under or old folks with too much spare time. Most of them go out, socialize, and actually discuss the world around them. The reason they don't seem to be politically active is because the politicians are corrupt and nobody represents them. Why should they focus their attention on useless politicians?

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Odd, of the dozens of students I regularly have contact with only a handful read more than one manga or actually care about "talents". Most of them read novels and research papers, many don't even watch TV all

This made me laugh. Out loud. Next you'll be telling me most have boyfriends or girlfriends and don't play videogames!

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Vienna1sausageDec. 14, 2012 - 07:33PM JST

Trying to have a conversation with a university aged student about politics is an exercise in futility.

I've talked with them many times. Talk about politics outside of Japan and they are pretty well versed and actually highly interested. Change the topic to Japan and they simply understand that they can't do anything because nobody represents them. They care about topics and how to improve the country, they just don't care about playing along with the corrupt politicians and their broken rules.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

DogDec. 15, 2012 - 01:08PM JST

The odd part is yesterday you were on here saying that the Japanese you know could nearly all discourse in world politics and I and others called BS on that.

You seem to have some odd ways of thinking. Most people don't get their news from TV or radio, we have a thing called the internet, it's very informative if you know where to look.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

gokai_wo_manekuDec. 14, 2012 - 05:24PM JST

I agree, young people have no right to complain that all the tax money is being spend on old people rather than supporting young people's education etc.

I guess you also agree that foreigners should be treated less than human, and that victims of domestic violence deserve it. Just because the majority always win and make the laws doesn't mean crap, especially when they are trained to obey everything their "superiors" tell them.

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Voting rate for 20~29 in the 2009 Lower House Election was at 49.5%. It's low compared to the elders but such lower rates are even moreso in Canada and U.S.

http://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=rec/part/estim/41ge&document=report41&lang=e http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0399.pdf

Sad to say but politicians tend to target the elders because there are more of them. And when the interests of elders most often conflicts with that of the younger generation, the interests among younger voters simply die out.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Vienna1sausage

I disagree completely.

For me, I take these so-called "personal" experiences as a grain of salt. People here claim to be "experts" /"professionals" (instructors of non-ALT,eikawa) but it's patently obvious that they are not by reading their past posts.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

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