By Masafumi Fukuda
A nationwide public opinion poll conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun revealed that those aged 18 or 19, who will vote for the first time in the Upper House elections this summer, are not necessarily very interested in the elections.
Interest in elections has been low among the young age group in the past as well. Voter turnout among those in their twenties in the 2013 Upper House elections was 33% (estimate), considerably lower than the overall turnout rate of 53%.
There are concerns that the voter turnout rate may be sluggish this summer. In the survey, those aged 18 or 19 who said they “are interested in the Upper House election” and “will vote” were lower than the figures for those in their twenties by 9 percentage points and 5 points, respectively.
Of 18- and 19-year-olds who said that they talk about politics with their families, however, 58% said that they “are interested” in the Upper House elections and 79% said they “will vote,” 21 points and 13 points, respectively, higher than the overall figure. This implies that not just “citizenship education” at school but also the adults in the young people’s lives play an important role in increasing their interest in politics.
More than half of those aged 18 or 19 said that they would obtain information related to the elections from the “Internet (on smartphones).” To increase young people’s interest, political parties and candidates must release easy-to-understand information about their policies on the Internet.