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In Japan, efforts are underway to win the hearts and votes of marginalized youth.

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Momoko Nojo’s campaign for the Tokyo-Japan elections revolves around social media and T-shirts, but she hasn’t run for public office. Instead, activists are fighting another battle – fighting indifference that keeps young voters away from polls.

It’s no wonder young people don’t vote. Many candidates say they are overwhelmingly male, old, and free from concerns.

Only 10% of the members of the House of Representatives who had just disbanded were women. The proportion of female candidates in the ruling coalition is even lower. The average age of male and female candidates is 54, with more than one-third of those over 60. A handful are over 80 years old.

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Women’s rights have not been discussed, and other issues such as gender equality, support for young families, serious labor shortages and dysfunctional immigration are barely on the agenda.

The severance means that only one-third of young voters have voted in elections over the last decade, and some analysts say that participation in the upcoming October 31 poll is the lowest in postwar history. I’m afraid that I could become.

“In this situation, the voice of young people is not reflected in politics,” said Nojo, a 23-year-old graduate student.

“Not voting makes life harder for this generation. Whether it’s a parenting issue or something else, we need to vote to get politics towards our generation. Participation need to do it.”

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The situation in Japan is in contrast to the situation in the United States, where the turnout of 18-24 year olds was 51% in the 2020 presidential election, according to the US Census Bureau.

Nojo, who was interested in activities while studying in Denmark, is not easily discouraged and has already overcome great potential. Earlier this year, she gained fame in a campaign to expel Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori of the Tokyo Olympics in her eighties after making sexist statements.

However, indifference among young voters is deep-seated and reflects long-term systematic problems in Japanese politics, often dominated by families elected across generations, analysts said. rice field.

The fact that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is on track to suffer a large loss in this election, has been in power except for a short period of the past 60 years, is also impossible to create a change of sensation. be.

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“I don’t feel connected to my life, so I won’t vote,” said 22-year-old manga illustrator Takuto Nanga. “Even if the top changes, there are still problems.”

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Things are especially bad for women. Only 9.7% of LDP candidates are women, and 7.5% of the coalition partner Komeito.

“Even if elected, women will not have a chance in an important cabinet portfolio. There should be only a handful in the cabinet and many more. Then women are participating. “You will have the feeling,” said Airo Hino, a professor at Waseda University.

Hino argues that while emphasizing issues such as climate change, college tuition cuts, and gender equality will help attract young voters, the process must also be attractive.

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This means rejecting traditional newspaper campaigns, campaign speeches, and fierce political appeal on NHK public television for social media. Some politicians, such as Taro Kono, are often cited in polls as leading candidates for the premiere.

“Few people read these large-scale party campaign platforms. It’s impossible for young people and they need a facilitator,” Hino added.

A voter matching app is also useful, where people answer questions and find out which party is closest.

“This is mostly a game, but that’s okay. If you find a party you like comfortably, you’ll go to vote,” Hino said.

Apart from the “No Youth No Japan” online campaign, Nojo has done a similar job, partnering with a clothing company to create a series of quirky T-shirts that emphasize issues such as life, peace, equality and the planet. , Voted. ..

“Clothes are worn every day. It’s a way of expressing your opinion and showing yourself,” says Nojo, hoping they’ll be the starters of conversations and spur voting.

It’s painfully clear that you have to do something.

“The large population and high turnout inevitably make the voices of the elderly stronger,” said Ayumi Adachi, a 20-year-old student.

“To get what we want, we need to speak up. We need to vote.” (Additional report by Akira Tomoshige, written by Elaine Lies, edited by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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In Japan, efforts are underway to win the hearts and votes of marginalized youth.

https://financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/in-japan-efforts-afoot-to-win-hearts-and-votes-of-the-alienated-young In Japan, efforts are underway to win the hearts and votes of marginalized youth.

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