• Elections

Parties make efforts to appeal to next generation of voters

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
High school and university students conduct a mock election recently in Hachioji, Tokyo.

While schoolchildren and other non-adults are not yet old enough to vote, they are not being ignored during the ongoing election campaign by ruling and opposition parties hoping to establish political footholds for the future.

Pamphlets in easy-to-understand language as well as websites and social media, are being used in the competition between the parties to gain support from youths ahead of next month’s House of Councillors election.

The parties believe that having young people gain a better understanding of their policies and form an impression could lead to a strengthening of their political base in the future. They also want to attract the votes of people in the generation of the youths’ parents.

The Liberal Democratic Party composed a pamphlet titled “Promises to Everybody” aimed at children.

The 10-page pamphlet, which includes the hiragana transcription of kanji characters and has many photos of animals, explains as simply as possible policy issues such as strengthening the nation’s defense capabilities and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s “new capitalism.”

“We distribute copies to grandparent-aged constituents at political rallies and other places so that family members will read them together,” an LDP official said.

Komeito has prepared a manifesto on children and child-rearing, featuring the agency for children and family affairs, which serves as the command tower for government policies on related issues, as well as the issue on assistance for young care-givers. “We want to consider politics and social issues with those who will shoulder the new age [of Japan],” it states.

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan made a leaflet aimed at youths, particularly 18- and 19-year-olds who now have the right to vote. The party aims to show it is in sympathy with their plight regarding educational fees, citing first-hand accounts such as “I can’t attend a cram school as my family does not have much money. I can’t go to the high school or the university of my choice.” It includes data on university tuition and other matters.

There are also attempts to get through to young people by use of the internet.

On its website, the Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) set up a section it named “kento bokujo” or “look-into-it ranch,” a shot at Kishida’s frequent use of the word “kento,” which can mean study, consider or look into, in dealing with important issues.

An illustrated cow moans, “Give me a break,” while the page criticizes Kishida’s measures on the declining birthrate, surging prices and the coronavirus. Then it explains the party’s own policies on the issues.

The Japanese Communist Party started a section on its website on “here’s what’s hot with the Japanese Communist Party” to highlight issues that the party is enthusiastic about. It includes a 1½-minute video of JCP Diet members’ Q&A sessions and speeches in the Diet.

The Democratic Party for the People asks visitors to its website their age group and field of interest, then presents them with the policy that will most appeal to them.

For example, if a visitor is in the 20-or-younger age group and chooses the issue of “increase the wages of part-time workers,” the website shows the party’s planned measures to raise income levels.