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Lesson Transcript

Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class: News and Current Events in Japan, Season 1 - Lesson 1, Lowering the Voting Age to 18.
In this series, we’ll introduce you to some of the most discussed news and topics in recent years in Japan.
In 2016, the Japanese government lowered the minimum voting age from 20 to 18. In this lesson, we'll learn about this news story.

Lesson focus

“The Constitution of Japan" was promulgated on November 3rd in 1945, the year that World War II ended. This constitution advocated “popular sovereignty” and "respect for basic human rights." Moreover, the constitution also included the "Public Offices Election Act," which gave men and women, age 20 and older, “voting rights.” In Japan, the General Election Law had been in effect since 1925, but it limited voting rights to "men whose ages are 25 and above" and didn’t grant suffrage to women. Women didn’t acquire the right to vote until 1945. Thus, the Public Offices Election Act increased the number of voters and extended the right to vote to 50 percent of the Japanese population.
However, seventy years later, voting rates have decreased while indifference to politics has increased. This trend is especially worrisome amongst younger generations. In this atmosphere, the Japanese government started to consider lowering the voting age to 18. In approximately 90 percent of countries and regions in the world, people are given voting rights by the time they turn 18. Moreover, the government had been criticized for neglecting policies important to people of child-rearing age. Policies which mainly affect elderly people, such as care insurance, are a priority to the government. However, people felt that the issues younger generations faced should be equally important. In short, the government needed to reflect younger generation's opinion to policies. In the end, the revised Public Offices Election Law was passed on June 17th, 2015. This lowered the voting age from “age 20 and above” to “age 18 and above.” The bill also allows people to campaign from age 18. Voting laws were updated for the first time in 70 years. However, it remains to be seen if these changes will increase younger generations’ interest in politics or encourage them to vote in elections.


Those are the key facts about the new voting age.
If you want to find out the related Japanese key-words, make sure to check out the lesson notes.
Okay, that’s all for this lesson. Thank you for listening everyone, and keep listening for more of the most talked about news stories in Japan!