What about us kids?
With 18- and 19-year-olds due to vote for the first time in the Upper House election this weekend, preteens and preschoolers got into the act Friday with a mock election at the KidZania Tokyo career theme park in Koto Ward.
KidZania organized the event, which ends Sunday, to encourage more youth participation in politics and Sunday’s pivotal election.
Children aged from 3 to 15 cast ballots for one of the five major political parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, Democratic Party, Japanese Communist Party, Komeito and Osaka Ishin no Kai — after KidZania officials briefly explained their campaign pledges. The ballots will not be counted.
“I voted for the DP because they will make workers and children happy,” said 10-year-old Yuki Matsui. “I read a book about lawyers and thought they were cool. I would like to become a lawyer in the future.”
Matsui’s friend Haruki Tsukada, 11, also voted for the DP, saying, “They protect the workers.”
Though Tsukada likes to compose songs on tablet computers, he dreams of becoming a pilot like his father.
A 5-year-old boy, meanwhile, voted for the LDP because he recognized the face of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Founded in 2006, KidZania Tokyo is an entertainment facility that uses role-playing activities to let children learn about various occupations, including firefighter, pilot and banker.
This is KidZania Tokyo’s fourth mock election but the theme park is putting more effort into this year’s event because of the new voting age, said spokeswoman Eriko Suzuki.
During a special workshop at the facility, 15 sixth-graders from Toyosu Kita Elementary School debated whether it would be worthwhile to build a day care center within a park.
Breaking into three groups, the students conducted debates and presented their conclusions afterward.
“What should we do with the children on waiting lists for day care centers?” and “Building day care centers inside a park might disturb local residents,” were among the concerns they discussed.
“I think it’s necessary to build day care centers,” said Narumi Asami, 11, adding that building many small centers may be more convenient than a few large ones.
“It was a good chance for me to learn about other opinions,” she said.
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