Japan has recently lowered the suffrage age from 20 to 18 years old as a result of a recent amendment to the Public Offices Election Law in 2015. Therefore, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, in 2016 elections, the number of voters will increase by 2.4 million people or 2.3% of Japan’s 104 million voters. The revision is an attempt of electoral reform to encourage younger people to be more politically active.
In this regard, universities and high schools have to take leading role to conduct voter education and civic education among the new electorates. Aomori Prefectural Government has produced television commercials and made posters based on ideas submitted by high school and college students, a group in their 20s collaborated with the prefectural government and employing social networking services, and a high school in Kanagawa Prefecture focused on training and teaching its students how to weigh facts and sort out opinions.
Similar to other developed countries, the political interest among youth have been declining. According to the Association for Promoting Fair Election, a statistic shows that in the National Election in 2012, only 38% of Japanese youth in their 20s voted. A recent poll from the Japan Youth Research Institute showed that only 6.5% of Japanese high-school students believed that they could make a difference in politics. For those in their 20s, only 30% thought that their involvement or contribution to politics would matter.
Stacey Steele and Aya Haruyama, Japanese students wake up to politics, East Asia Forum, September 18, 2015, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2015/09/18/japanese-students-wake-up-to-politics/.
Valentine Ostaszewski, Japanese Youth’s Political Engagement: Now or Never, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, October 21, 2015, http://www.asiapacific.ca/blog/japanese-youths-political-engagement-now-or-never.
Nation’s 18- and 19-year-olds prepare to vote, The Japan Times, June 18, 2016, http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/18/national/politics-diplomacy/nations-18-and-19-year-olds-prepare-to-vote/#.V3C2t7iLSUk.
Link : Youth Create website (Japanese)
Link : Ivote website (Japanese)
Link : Vote Getter (Time: Aug 20, 2009)
Link : Has Japan’s youth lost interest in politics? (Greg Pampling: Feb 25, 2014)
Link : Youth Voter Apathy Threatening ‘Breakdown’ in Japanese Democracy (Link Asia: 2012)
Link : Yamato Aoki: Leading Japanese Students Into Politics (OZY: 2014)
Link : Mock elections on rise to engage youth in politics- (The Japan Times: Dec 11, 2014)
Link : The New Activism of Japan’s Youth (Time: Aug 20, 2009)
Link : Japan’s Young People Don’t Care About Politics? Not True! (Global Voices: Feb 10, 2015)