Young Japanese People Show Little Interest in Local ElectionsPolitics Education Society
In 2023, Japan will hold its unified local elections, which take place every four years. On April 9 the elections will include contests for the governors of nine prefectures and the mayors of six designated cities, with further elections scheduled for April 23. The latest results in an ongoing survey of 17- to 19-year-olds conducted by the Nippon Foundation found that 33.0% of the 1,000 respondents were aware of the unified local elections, including both those who knew the specific dates and those who just knew they will be held soon. Meanwhile, 29.2% of the respondents were not aware and 38.8% did not know the meaning of the term “unified local elections.” Generally, the girls had less interest in the elections than boys.
Among those 18 or older who were aware of upcoming elections in their area of residence, more than 80% said they would definitely or maybe vote in the unified local elections.
The most common expectation respondents had for their local assembly, mentioned by 35.2% of the respondents, was that the representatives would listen to residents’ opinions and requests. However, a larger percentage of respondents, at 36.1%, had no particular expectation toward their assembly.
In recent years, a shortage of qualified local assembly members has become an increasingly serious problem. For the unified local elections held in 2019, roughly one of every four assembly members ran unopposed, which is a situation that threatens the foundations of democracy. When asked what efforts should be made to increase the number of election candidates for local assemblies, the most common response, at 49.1%, was to encourage young people to run for election, followed by 37.2% who suggested that women should be encouraged to become assembly members.
(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)