Latest News

Monday, 1st June 2015
In General Japan News,

Japan prepares to lower voting age from 20 to 18

The voting age in Japan is set to be lowered from 20 to 18 when legislation is agreed this week by a parliamentary committee.

Japan has the most rapidly ageing society in the world, which is leading to fears that the electorate will vote for more spending on healthcare as opposed to issues that affect young people.

This in turn could lead to problems raising the birth rate, with less money spent on the likes of education and childcare.

Legislators are therefore keen to act on the voting age now, with a committee due to meet on the issue tomorrow (June 2nd).

If all goes according to plan, it could pass through parliament by the end of the month and result in 18-year-olds being able to vote in the elections next year.

Lowering the voting age in Japan would allow an additional 2.4 million people to vote and bring the country in line with qualifying ages around the world.

The proportion of the electorate under 30 would then be 14.3 per cent, but ten years ago this was 14.8 per cent, which demonstrates how fast Japan's population is ageing.

Giving young people the right to vote does not guarantee they will turn out to the polls, however, with recent elections seeing a 40 per cent turnout in this demographic on average.

Mikitaka Masuyama, a professor of political science at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, told the Financial Times: "They may turn out on big occasions - a vote on constitutional reform, for example - and next year, when the change has just come in, but overall it's unlikely to have such a big effect."

Polls on party identification that have been carried out in Japan suggest that younger voters in the nation generally lean a little to the right, especially when it comes to areas such as national identity.

If this is the case, then an increased number of voters in this age range could be beneficial for the incumbent prime minister, Shinzo Abe, who belongs to the conservative party.