National / Politics

Japanese political parties woo young voters with manga, social media and cosplay

JIJI

Both the ruling and opposition parties are tapping social media, manga and even cosplay in an effort to drum up support from young voters ahead of the July 21 House of Councilors election.

The renewed focus on younger voters follows the lowering of the voting age from 20 to 18 through a 2015 revision to the relevant law.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party created a manga booklet and started distributing it on the streets and elsewhere in a bid to encourage young people to cast their ballots in the coming election for the upper chamber of the Diet.

An LDP official claimed that the support rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also president of the party, is especially high among teens and those in their 20s.

The LDP created a special social media team for the 16 prefectural constituencies where only one seat will be up for grabs. The LDP is putting a special emphasis on the 16 districts, believing that the results there will affect the party’s overall performance in the election.

“We’re sure that a rise in turnout among young voters will directly boost the strength of our party,” a senior member of the LDP’s Youth Division said.

Komeito, the coalition partner of the LDP, created a special section on its website that details its key policies through the use of videos and images.

The major opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan is using social media to inform the public of schedules for street speeches by its senior officials.

“The CDP can’t use its budget for television commercials,” its leader, Yukio Edano, said on Twitter, noting that the party will instead promote its policies on the internet.

“By lowering the hurdle for politics, we want to encourage young people to participate more in politics,” said Yuichiro Tamaki, leader of the Democratic Party for the People.

Dressed in a costume of Amuro Ray, one of the main characters of the Mobile Suit Gundam anime series, Tamaki appeared at a party meeting last Sunday in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, a hub of for anime and manga, and had his photo taken with young people.

The party is also using YouTube to seek voter support.

On Sunday, Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii attended a meeting with young supporters and stressed that there is a need to lower school tuition fees and expand scholarship programs. Hip-hop music was played during the event.

Nippon Ishin no Kai, meanwhile, is notifying voters of its stump speech schedules through the Line messaging app.

And the Social Democratic Party crafted a leaflet summarizing its policies for young people, including lowering the minimum age for electoral candidates.