He may have lost the Tokyo gubernatorial election Sunday, but Toshio Tamogami appears to have won over younger voters who favored the hawkish former Air Self-Defense Force general more than middle-aged and elderly voters did, according to media exit polls.
However, experts caution it’s too early to conclude that young people are shifting to the right.
An Asahi Shimbun exit poll of 7,466 people at 180 polling stations showed 24 percent of those in their 20s cast ballots for Tamogami. In comparison, human rights lawyer Kenji Utsunomiya drew 19 percent and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa 11 percent.
Another exit poll, conducted jointly by the Mainichi Shimbun and other media outlets on 2,586 people at 60 polling stations, suggested a similar trend. It found 27 percent of people in their 20s voted for Tamogami, 16 percent for Utsunomiya and 12 percent for Hosokawa.
Masuzoe topped both polls, receiving 36 percent and 32 percent, respectively, of the 20-somethings’ votes.
Citing a lack of telltale right-wing issues in the campaign, Keio University political science professor Yoshiaki Kobayashi said it wasn’t possible to conclude from the result that young people are moving to the right.
“If Tamogami fought the election with pledges such as aiming to revise the Constitution, it’s possible to presume a tendency. But the election didn’t see such a topic,” Kobayashi said.
Although Tamogami differentiated himself from the other candidates on some issues, particularly in his eagerness to restart idled nuclear reactors and engage in disaster preparedness, Kobayashi said he wasn’t sure what influenced voters.
“We cannot know which of Tamogami’s pledges influenced voters just from the exit polls’ results,” Kobayashi said. “Can we say addressing disaster prevention is tilting to the right? Or supporting nuclear reactors?”
Ryosuke Imai, professor of politics at Tokyo Metropolitan University, agreed no conclusion could be drawn, adding that two conditions must be met before saying young people are shifting to the right.
“For one thing, younger people tended to focus on whether a candidate’s political views or issues are regarded as conservative, while older people didn’t have that tendency,” Imai said.
“The other is that voters who value conservative views or issues in politicians tended to vote for Tamogami,” he said.
Kobayashi added that Tamogami, who didn’t have organizational support, attracted young people by using social media.
Indeed, Tamogami claimed he got enthusiastic responses from the public, especially from younger people.
“I was widely supported on the Internet. I think I won some degree of support from young people,” Tamogami said after the election. Tamogami kicked off his campaign on Jan. 23 in the Shibuya area, a hub for young people.