In Japan, the Election Administration Commission is responsible for voter awareness. The Commission hosts various lectures, publishes newsletters, collects election-related posters, displays campaign advertisement, etc.
Japan law has recently reduced the voter suffrage age to 18. It is the biggest reform to the nation’s electoral laws in 70 years, in an attempt at encouraging younger voters to be more politically active. But the challenge is the young generation has not shown interest in politics, and, as a result, their participation in elections is decreasing. Therefore, it is a challenge for the Election Commission to educate and prepare the young voters for the next elections.
Voter education has become a part of school classes to raise awareness and interests in politics and elections among the young people. In 2014, a group of teacher enthusiasts known as the Network for Promoting Mock Elections says at least 34 schools on all levels held polls around the Upper House election in July last year. Around 11,230 students took part.
However, the Japan Teachers’ Union argues that civic education should not stop at conducting mock voting or learning about the rules relating to the election system. It should also include an element of social responsibility for citizens to use their voting rights in a way, which fosters active involvement in societal issues.
More schools are conducting classes that study newspapers and make students cast a vote. The students learned to examine the slogans used by political parties and candidates, debated using newspapers articles on the opening campaign speeches of the party leaders. Some schools borrowed ballot boxes from the election management committee to use in the mock elections.
Japanese Politics Hear from Students, East Asia Forum, September 19, 2015, http://www.economywatch.com/features/Japanese-Politics-Hear-from-Students0919.html.
Mock elections on rise to engage youth in politics, The Japan Times, December 11, 2014, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/11/national/politics-diplomacy/mock-elections-rise-engage-youth-politics/#.VgT5Nsuqqko.
Saroj Bhattarai, Japan Election – an Experience, Japan Up Close, December 14, 2014, http://japanupclose.web-japan.org/policy/20150227_2.html.
Election Administration Commission, Osaka City, http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/contents/wdu020/senkyo/english/.