National

Wakayama youth group urges teens to 'end voting virginity'

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

End your virginity while you are still a teenager.

So urges a Wakayama-based group of youths distributing contentious flyers that have gone viral on social media over the past few days.

The flyers, punctuated with witty catchphrases and occasionally risque jokes, are part of an attempt by the five-member group to encourage teens to vote in Sunday’s Upper House election and abandon their “virgin voter” status as soon as possible.

“We wanted to try something that a local municipality would never do,” Kazuki Obata, a 21-year-old Wakayama University student spearheading the project, said.

Public reaction to the 38 flyers his group unleashed on the internet has been “surprisingly much bigger than I anticipated,” he said.

A Twitter user who came across the flyers posted photos of them Wednesday with a caption that said: “There is something horny going on with Wakayama’s election.” It had been re-tweeted about 25,000 times by Friday.

Among the most controversial of Obata’s flyers — purportedly designed to spur younger voters to go to the polls — are some that say, “Let’s try to complete your ‘first’ while in your teens” and “Your ‘first’ should be given to somebody you truly trust,” playing on phraseology that could be used to encourage teen sex.

Obata said he hopes the flyers will catch the attention of youths ahead of Sunday’s election and boost turnout in a generation notoriously apathetic about politics.

“By increasing the number of young people who go to vote, I hope to see more of their voices reflected in politics,” Obata said.

So far, his initiative seems to have resonated well online, with young people describing the flyers as “funny” and saying they now feel closer to the election than before, Obata said.

Others, however, frowned at them.

“It’s up to each individual to decide when to have sex. But the flyers sound like they take it for granted that losing one’s virginity is a recommended thing to do,” columnist Genki Katsube tweeted.