Sunday, October 19, 2008


If you live here in Japan this might not be that big a surprise, but to folks in the politically active world abroad it's probably shocking to learn that political activism among today's Japanese youth is about the same as it is among teddy bears.

The contrast is even greater to one from a country like the US, where folks of all ages are active in pursuing their rights. I remember debating for the 18-year-old vote back in high school in NY in the 1950s; the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on July 1, 1971, lowering the US voting age to 18.

All the same, despite J-youths' apparent apathy regarding political empowerment (Will you put down the manga/joystick, take out your earbuds and just listen for a minute?), a Japanese student newspaper conducted a survey among high schoolers to find out whether they had any interest in lowering the voting age from 20 to 18, in a country with the dinosauriest government in the world (McCain's a young whippersnapper compared to some of these LDP lifetimers), but most of the kids who were willing to take out their earbuds said they'd rather not have the vote as they put the buds back in.

In fact, 32% of those who let go of the joystick for a sec said they actually OPPOSED voting rights for 18- and 19-year-olds; in other words, they felt something like: "What a ridiculous idea, giving matters of choice to people our age!" (Like Groucho and that club he would never think of joining), while an underwhelming 20% thought having the vote so soon would be kewl. About 40% said 'whatever...' and turned the volume back up.

Interestingly, female students particularly opposed the idea of giving the vote to such as they would soon be; only 16 percent said they approved of having the vote at that age, while 34 percent said "No way!" and resumed their eyelining.

Hard to believe, in times like these; maybe it won't be true, one day, and Japanese high school students won't have Jurassic leaders...

1 comment:

tracy said...

I remember the sheltered lives we had as kids growing up in the coal fields. Though, we couldn't be sheltered from new ideals; we never held debate teams at our local highschools, and there seemed to be little interest in the political process among our youth "back home". I am so glad I didn't let this keep me from moving on...