The Yomiuri ShimbunThe low voter turnout among young people is an issue that has long been pointed out. The upcoming House of Councillors election is the third national election since the voting age was lowered to 18. Young people are called on to exercise their voting rights to decide Japan’s future course.
Many young people use social networking services as their primary means of communication.
On the internet, people who agree with each other show a strong tendency to share sympathetic opinions with each other by repeatedly posting messages of a similar tone. They are also prone to not listening to those with differing opinions.
An election is a process in which candidates present their own policies and voters decide whether they approve of them. Voters are called on to use the upper house election as an opportunity to compare the pledges of individual political parties and carefully consider the differences among them.
If you visit the websites of candidates, you will be able to see their profiles and details of their policies. Looking at the campaign pledges of individual political parties, you will be able to discover their stances on such issues as social security, the environment and energy.
Some online posts summarize and compare the policy pledges of the political parties. But it is necessary to pay heed to posts that do not carry names or sources linked to the material cited.
It is easy for abusive slander and inaccurate information posted by anonymous users to circulate online.
Videos have appeared online showing unsightly scenes, such as people jeering and interrupting speeches of stumping candidates, and scuffles involving supporters of the politicians trying to stop the actions of the jeering agitators.
Young voters are called on to select information necessary for voting, without being swayed by such posts.
The importance of education to enhance the awareness of young voters conducted at schools has been rising. Not a few teachers are unsure about how to deal with political themes.
Cooperation with election administration commissions could be an effective way to deal with the issue. In a class conducted by the Fukui Prefectural Election Administration Commission at a high school, mock voting was conducted after students were asked to read a campaign bulletin. The students’ interest was likely aroused through the mock poll, for which genuine voting booths and ballot boxes were used.
There are also things parents can do in regard to education to enhance the awareness of young voters.
According to a survey conducted by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, the voter turnout of young people who had experience of visiting polling stations with their parents in their childhoods exceeded that of those with no such experience by more than 20 percentage points.
In the revised Public Offices Election Law enacted in 2016, children under 18 years old were permitted to accompany parents to polling stations — prior to this only “young infants” were permitted.
It is hoped that parents and their children will go to polling stations together on voting day.