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Thursday, 7th April 2016
In General Japan News,

Bill enables voting at railway stations in Japan

A bill has been passed by the Diet in Japan that will allow citizens to vote in both local and national elections at train stations and commercial centres.

It was enacted yesterday (March 6th), revising the Public Offices Election Law and getting cross-party support in the Upper House.

Many believe that the change will help to boost voter turnout, making it more convenient and extending polling hours beyond their unusual times.

Instead of being restricted to opening at 8.30am and closing at 8pm, an extra two hours can be added on each end at the discretion of local governments.

The revision will come into effect on June 19th, meaning it will be in place for this summer’s Upper House elections.

Currently, the system allows voters to use polling stations in one location only, usually at a school or public office near where they live.

As many people are out of the house for long hours working, this can make it difficult to cast their vote.

Setting up polling stations in high-traffic locations, including train stations and shopping centres, should make it easier for the electorate to have their say.

Until now, there has been the opportunity for some people in a number of municipalities to cast their vote at commercial complexes, but this has only been offered in advance and not on the election day itself.

The new rule will offer a uniform approach to the whole country, making voting more accessible.

Another change that will also come into force on June 19th will be the lowering of the voting age from 20 to 18-years-old.

It is thought that this will allow an additional 2.4 million Japanese citizens to actively participate in democracy.