Celebs to get shoved aside in Tokyo election

by Mizuho Aoki

Staff Writer

The Tokyo Metropolitan Electoral Management Committee said Friday it won’t be using celebrities in its get-out-the-vote campaign for the Feb. 9 gubernatorial election, citing insufficient lead time due to the abrupt resignation of Naoki Inose last month.

Because it usually takes a few months to cast comedians or musicians and prepare posters and videos, the election board chose to forego the use of star power this time around.

Since 1989, popular comedians and pop idols have been recruited as the public face to boost voter turnout in most Tokyo gubernatorial elections.

In the last two election races, the all-girl group AKB48 was pressed into service in hopes of turning around the low voting rate among younger people.

The turnout among eligible voters in their 20s increased about 5 percentage points between 2007 and 2011, and 2011 and 2012, and AKB48′s participation may have played a role, the committee said.

Even so, the voting rate for people in their 20s is still around 20 percentage points lower than the overall average.