National / Politics

80% of students plan to vote when they turn 18: survey

Kyodo

Some 80 percent of students polled say they plan to vote after turning 18, the minimum voting age, according to a private think tank.

The survey, released Wednesday, collected postal responses from some 11,000 children ranging from fourth grade to high school in summer 2016. It showed that those with parents enthusiastic about voting tend to influence them.

Japan’s 18- and 19-year-olds will get their first chance to participate in a House of Representatives election on Sunday, thanks to a revision to the electoral law last year that lowered the minimum voting age from 20 to 18.

Some 79.7 percent of students in the fourth to sixth grades, 84.0 percent of junior high school students, and 84.1 percent of high school students said they will or probably will vote after turning 18, according to the survey, which was conducted by the Benesse Educational Research and Development Institute and the Institute of Social Science at the University of Tokyo.

Around 88.7 percent of high schoolers whose parents said they would vote Sunday said they will participate. But among students whose parents said they would not cast a ballot, only 56.8 percent said they would vote.

“Children are influenced by the parents’ interests in politics,” a Benesse official said, proposing that families hold discussions about politics while watching the news.

The research also showed that as they grow older, more students believe they cannot change society even if they try. Such students tend to be unenthusiastic about exercising their voting rights, it said.