Japan Data

One in Four Town and Village Elections in Japan Going Uncontested

Politics Society

Candidates running uncontested in the election of town and village council members are on the rise, and with the number of assemblies unable to meet the minimum quorum continuing to increase, local governments are finding themselves on the brink of crisis.

For the first time, the National Association of Chairpersons of Town and Village Assemblies compiled and reported on the number of Japanese assemblies where candidates ran uncontested in town and village elections (including nationwide local elections). In the most recent four years, from May 2019 through April 2023, out of the 926 towns and villages that held elections, 254 (27.4%) had candidates with no opponents and 31 that did not meet the required quorum. It was apparent that there were not enough qualified members able to run for office.

The association has carried out the survey every four years between May 2011 and April 2023 in order to assess the situation. From May 2011 through April 2015, elections in 191 (20.4%) out of 934 towns and villages were run uncontested, while 10 did not meet the required quorum. Between May 2015 and April 2019, of the 932 towns and villages that held elections, 204 (21.9%) went uncontested and 15 did not meet the quorum. The results showed that from 2011 to 2023 the rate of uncontested elections increased by 7 points and the number of towns and villages that could not meet the minimum quorum tripled.

Ratio of Uncontested Candidates in Japan’s Town and Village Assembly Elections

A survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of nationwide local elections revealed that out of the 373 towns and villages that held elections in 2023, 123 (33%) were uncontested, pushing the rate higher.

The association stated that “the shortage of qualified council members is becoming much more serious. If not stopped, local governments will reach a point of crisis”. It called for the government to create an easier environment for people to run for election and also resolved to further discuss digitization of council affairs, anti-harassment measures, and improvement in council members’ renumeration.

(Translated from Japanese. Banner photo: A bulletin board for displaying election posters. © Pixta.)

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