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Japan’s Youth Shun Politics, Leaving Power With the Elderly

  • Abe death barely stirred turnout with youth trailing elderly
  • Socially progressive policies stay on backburner, analysts say
Voters cast a ballot at a polling location in the Minato District of Tokyo, Japan, on July 10.

Voters cast a ballot at a polling location in the Minato District of Tokyo, Japan, on July 10.

Photographer: Toru Hanai/Bloomberg

The murder of Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe just days before the upper house election sent shockwaves through the nation. Yet voter turnout increased only marginally and Japanese youth remained largely disengaged.

With just 34% of 18- and 19-year-olds heading to the ballot box, youth turnout relative to the overall figure was the lowest since the voting age was dropped from 20 to 18 six years ago. That’s despite an ongoing civic education campaign aimed at rallying younger Japanese, who trail counterparts in the US and Korea in political engagement.