72% in Japan Worried Over Shortage of Candidates for Assembly Members

The Yomiuri Shimbun

More than 70% of respondents of a recent Yomiuri Shimbun survey said they are concerned about the shortage of candidates seeking to become assembly members.

The survey, which was conducted by mail from Jan. 24 to Feb. 28, showed that 72% of respondents thought it was problematic or somewhat problematic that so few people are willing to become local legislators.

Most respondents, or 52%, believed the reason for so the shortage of candidates was that “it is too expensive to run for office.” This was followed by 41% saying “the job as a legislator is not attractive” and 35% saying “the person runs the risk of losing a job if they lose the election.” The respondents were asked to choose up to three answers.

When asked which politician plays an important role in society, with multiple answers allowed, 64% said governor, 52% chose a House of Representatives member, 31% said mayor and 22% selected a House of Councillors member. Only 17% of respondents selected a municipal assembly member and 16% said a prefectural assembly member.

When asked to name any incumbent in their constituency, with multiple answers allowed, 69% named their governors, 45% named lower house members or mayors, 24% named municipal assembly members, 21% named upper house members and only 18% named prefectural assembly members.

Only 6% said they wanted to become a local assembly member, while 92% said no.

Most respondents, or 64%, said they were interested in unified local elections, with 16% saying they were very interested and 48% saying they were somewhat interested. Of the 35% of respondents who were uninterested, 27% said they were not very interested and 8% said they were not interested at all.

In the write-in portion of the survey, many respondents requested local assembly members to interact with residents and to disseminate more information. A Miyagi Prefecture woman in her 70s said she “wants them to listen to the needs of the community on a regular basis, not just around election time.” A Shizuoka Prefecture man in his 30s said he “wants the assembly person to share how they have changed the lives of the residents in their constituency.”

The survey was sent to 3,000 voters, and 2,090 responded.