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Novelty party in Hokkaido shows that 105,000 voters want ‘none of the above’

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

While many voters struggled to find a party that matched their hopes for the nation’s future, voters in Hokkaido had an easy way out: a box marked “No party to support” on the proportional representation section of the ballot.

Shiji Seito Nashi (No Party to Support) was the registered name of a political party running in Hokkaido for the proportional representation vote.

It secured 104,854 votes, easily beating the Social Democratic Party, which got 53,604 votes, and Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations), which won 38,342. Even so, it failed to win a seat.

“I wanted to offer eligible voters a choice to express their honest opinion: that they have no party to support in the election,” party leader Hidemitsu Sano told The Japan Times on Tuesday.

He said the alternative would be to force people to vote reluctantly for a party they did not like.

“Although an overwhelming majority of people tell opinion polls they support no party, that option does not exist at actual polling stations,” he said.

The basic idea is to offer an alternative to blank votes, which voters often cast in protest over existing parties. The blank-vote tally is not widely publicized. This, then, seemed like a way to show voters’ dissatisfaction by number, Sano said.

Shiji Seitou Nashi is the third political party Sano has organized. He previously ran as the head of Shinto Honshitsu (New Principle Party) and Anrakushi To (Euthanasia Party). As in Sunday’s poll, both earlier efforts failed to win a seat.

Yet, the CEO of an IT-related company is satisfied that he has represented more than 100,000 voters who otherwise might not have cast a vote for any party this time. It was a fair number, although he admits he expected more.

Meanwhile, some Internet users assailed the party as a trick using an intentionally misleading name. One Twitter user posted a photo of the ballot paper suggesting it would be easy to vote mistakenly for “No party to support” not knowing that it in fact was a party.

On Dec. 13, the DPJ former Cabinet minister Renho, who goes by only one name, warned her Twitter followers in Hokkaido not to mark the box by mistake.

Sano had given thought to what he would do if elected. Without deciding policies and a political stance in advance, he resolved to consult Internet users every time a bill came up and would vote accordingly.

And he has ambitions to roll out the party nationwide. His dream is to make No Party to Support an option on ballots in all districts so that those reluctant to vote, because of frustration with the limited options available, will have a chance to express their honest opinion.