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Japan Bans Use of Web Sites in Elections

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the defeats-the-point-a-bit dept.

The Internet 190

couch_warrior writes with a BBC article about Japan's choice to restrain political speech in the 21st century. The nation of Japan bans the use of internet sites to solicit voters in its upper house elections. Based on election laws drawn up in the 50s, candidates are restricted in the ways they can reach their constituents. Candidates are even restrained from distributing leaflets that will reach more than 3% of the voters. What's more, people who are trying to change the laws are failing. Despite heavy internet usage and a strong installed base of high-speed connectivity, young people just don't feel involved in politics. "In Japan, 95% of people in their 20s surf the web, but only a third of them bother to vote. Some, though, do not seem keen on politicians using the web to try to win their support. 'I believe that internet resources are not very official,' says Kentaro Shimano, a student at Temple University in Tokyo. 'YouTube is more casual; you watch music videos or funny videos on it, but if the government or any politicians are on the web it doesn't feel right.' Haruka Konishi agrees. 'Japanese politics is something really serious,' she says. 'Young people shouldn't be involved, I guess because they're not serious enough or they don't have the education.' There cannot be many places in the world where students feel their views should not count. Perhaps it is really a reflection of the reality — that they do not."

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Nonsense. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19855709)

In any democracy, all people who are affected by the laws should have a say in how those laws get made. Indeed, they have a responsibility and a duty to make their voices heard.

To paraphrase an old saw about reading, "the person who doesn't vote is no better off than the person who cannot vote!"

definitely not! (1, Insightful)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855835)

We don't let children vote. What a horrifying thought! Mickey Mouse would be telling kids to support billion-year copyright extensions.

We do let people vote at age 18. An 18-year-old is unlikely to have been supporting himself for long, to have effective memories of both recessions and booms, to have a decent understanding of world politics, and so on. Most 18 year olds are still strongly influenced by the various fads and peer pressures of youth, typically as encouraged by the usual large corporations. (the pop star says we should vote for...)

So really, low turnout of inexperienced people is not bad. We don't need any more people voting for the guy with the attractive haircut.

Re:definitely not! (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855881)

One thing that scares me is that Mickey Mouse can't tell children to vote, but the RIAA sells products to kids (and to everyone), and with that money they lobby congressmen into approving the laws they want.

Suddenly i remember that biblical prophecy about the number of the beast and that everyone must put it in their foreheads to get what they want. Why does it seem SO similar to me? :(

Re:definitely not! (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856629)

The Baby Boomers are the largest demographic, and will be until more than half of them are dead.

In a democracy, their interests will be deferred to in all things.

They also hold most of the money, and therefore dictate where the economy goes, and there isn't much a young person can do about that either.

There are rock star exceptions you can point at, but they are the exception.

Re:definitely not! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856675)

Suddenly i remember that biblical prophecy about the number of the beast and that everyone must put it in their foreheads to get what they want. Why does it seem SO similar to me? :(


Sorry to derail, but the Book of Revelation isn't a prophecy. It was a book written buy a guy as a message to the people about hope. Hope that the persecution under the Roman empire (at the time) would end soon. The book is basically nothing more than a cleverly written piece, with its message hidden behind extravagant symbolism, about how the Roman Empire would fall at the hands of the Christians, which it basically did.

Preachers like to throw it around to scare people, especially into donating money (or helping churches out in other ways). Why keep your money and put any value your own time if the world is going to end soon? It's an easy way to control people.

Define "definitely" (4, Insightful)

Lurkingrue (521019) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855917)

As long as the aforementioned hypothetical 18-year-old can't be asked by his/her country to serve, and die in its service, I guess I'm fine with that. As far as this much-older-than-18-year-old is concerned, though -- if you're old enough to be a soldier, a sailor, a member of the police force, or a firefighter, then you should be old enough to vote.

Re:Define "definitely" (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19855981)

As long as the aforementioned hypothetical 18-year-old can't be asked by his/her country to serve, and die in its service, I guess I'm fine with that.
Then again, 18 year olds in the military aren't doing a lot of thinking for themselves, are they? They are there to be molded into weapons. I think that's why youth is preferred.

Re:Define "definitely" (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856437)

That's not the issue. If an 18-year old can be sent to die in a war on behalf of America, shouldn't that 18-year old have some say in the process of that leads to making the decision to become involved in said war? Especially in the context of the draft, without giving 18 year olds a vote, you are making slaves of those drafted.

Re:Define "definitely" (-1, Flamebait)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856501)

Actually, no. And the US military is, on average, more educated and comes from a wealthier background than the rest of the population.

The reason that younger people are preferred is because they are less likely to have families dependant on them and because they can physically tolerate more stress and are more physically resilient.

I realize it's the lefty religion that people in the military are stupid, but it's not based in fact. To find real populations of stupid, visit the core Democrat constituencies. IE - wearing $140 shoes, $1000+ worth of jewelry, driving a leased Escalade, sitting on rented furniture, and living in public housing.

Mod this racist parent post down, please (2, Informative)

rockout (1039072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856671)

Where to start? I was in the military and I think you pulled that first stat right out of your posterior; I certainly didn't see many airmen coming from a wealthier background than the average, nor did more than a handful of them have anything past a HS education. Your "read-between-the-lines" reference to African-Americans in this country is so blatantly racist that I can't believe at least 1 person modded you up for it. And by the way, the other thing I noticed about 18-22-year-old-airmen in the AF was how many of them took on two massive car payments that ate up most of their paychecks because they didn't have to worry about housing. Then they'd take on massive credit card debt on top of that, to the point where the AF had (and probably still has) programs instructing these kids on how to be financially responsible, teaching them even during basic training. It didn't seem to do much good, however; many of them still engaged in that type of behavior that did not seem to indicate they were well-educated or had familiarity with money in any way.

Re:Define "definitely" (3, Informative)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856705)

Actually no. The vast majority of non-officers have never been to college. Many barely finished high school. Another large percentage did ok in high school, but can't afford college and are in it for the GI bill. The number of recruits from the middle and upper class are vanishingly small.

Re:Define "definitely" (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856061)

being asked isn't the issue - i'm fine with young ones not votng even if they are asked - it's the ability to say NO which is important.

Re:Define "definitely" (3, Insightful)

Kickersny.com (913902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856245)

if you're old enough to be a soldier, a sailor, a member of the police force, or a firefighter, then you should be old enough to vote.
Yet you're not old enough to drink alcohol, apparently.

Re:Define "definitely" (2, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856285)

if you're old enough to be a soldier, a sailor, a member of the police force, or a firefighter......

Or buy beer, get married, be tried for a felony with full penalties, etc. etc. etc.

You got my vote.

Re:Define "definitely" (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856461)

As long as the aforementioned hypothetical 18-year-old can't be asked by his/her country to serve, and die in its service, I guess I'm fine with that. As far as this much-older-than-18-year-old is concerned, though -- if you're old enough to be a soldier, a sailor, a member of the police force, or a firefighter, then you should be old enough to vote.

Fair point.

But you still agree bloggers should be sent to camps at least during the election period, right?

Re:Define "definitely" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857141)

if you're old enough to be a soldier, a sailor, a member of the police force, or a firefighter, then you should be old enough to vote

Drink, too.

Or do drugs.

Wait, I'm 27 and I still don't seem to have that right. WTF?

Re:definitely not! (2, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855923)

agreed. i'm 27 soon and i've only just grown a brain in the last few years. before age 24, I just had no fucking clue, and worse yet i THOUGHT i did just like others my age.

i know there's probably plenty of people reading this aged 17 - 25, who'll hate this simple fact. Your too young to have experienced enough to have much of a world view.

granted i'm not old enough to look down my nose at you, but i have atleast the realisation i have lots to learn.

Re:definitely not! (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856423)

Age isn't the only reason people can be morons. How, exactly, do you know your being 23 was what made you one?

Re:definitely not! (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856493)

agreed. i'm 27 soon and i've only just grown a brain in the last few years. before age 24, I just had no fucking clue, and worse yet i THOUGHT i did just like others my age.


Have you maybe though that this is you and a fraction of the rest of the population? I am tired of someone's experience being expanded onto applying to everyone as a quasi-universal experience.

I know people over 50 that still act and think like teenagers. And I know teenagers that have it together without acting like they are the masters of the world.

That said, advocating passiveness of the original parent is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard of. For one, if I wanted to learn how to cook - do I stay back, observe for years, and wait to do anything? No, I absorb one thing at a time, and then try it myself. I might fail the first few times, but I will become infinitely better much sooner than somebody who becomes an armchair cook watching Rachael Ray all day.

Second, passiveness and complacency is precisely the problem with politics. Let the more experienced people take care of it. Well, we have let others take care of it. Look at our country today - two big sides of "experienced" adults mostly with rigid adherence to "their" political party despite all else, our nation with neck up in debt with several looming financial disasters in the future our politicians believe they can either borrow their way out of or don't care since they'll be long gone by then, etcetera.

Yeah, I'd rather have people in as early as possible. Yeah, they will make mistakes early on. But I figure someone inexperienced at 18 making mistakes will recover and be more willing to change their opinions than someone who is 35, observationally experienced and practically inexperienced, and set in their ways.

Let's not forget, many of the "experienced" senior citizens are also voting to look out of their interests. It could and should be counterbalanced.

*You may notice my sarcastic use of experience throughout. I believe anybody who supports a particular political party in this day and age, particularly one of the big 2, has not learned anything of value from their so-called experience. There are good people in both parties, but that is inspite of the party's best trying otherwise. Since most people of any age fall in this category, a lot of experience is not being put to use anyway. I refer you all to George Washington's farewell address.

Your post in 10 years (4, Funny)

rockout (1039072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856713)

I'm 37 soon, and now I finally have it all figured out. When I was 27, I hadn't figured out ANYthing, and worse yet, I THOUGHT I had grown a brain in the last few years, just like others my age. I know there's probably plenty of people reading this aged 27 who'll hate this simple fact. Your [sic] too young to have learned how to spell "you're" or to have much of a world view.

Re:definitely not! (1)

ZakuSage (874456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855935)

I, for one, am in favor of opening voting up to all ages.

Re:definitely not! (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855967)

I'm not sure how the Japanese military works, and it's been a long time since I was 18, but I do remember thinking that if I'm old enough to be sent into combat, then I'm damn sure old enough to vote.

If we can trust 18 year olds with a ballet, a motorcycle, a firearm, or to drive a tank in Iraq, it sounds like pure hypocrisy to deny them a beer.
I'm sure Japan has its fair share of hypocrisy.

Re:definitely not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856047)

What is required for combat, and what we ask from kids is physical abilities, not wisdom. That's why we give them a gun AND orders to follow. We know kids are not able to take good decision, so we let someone more mature decide what to do.

Voting should be exactly like that. We tell the kid where to put the mark, and the kid do it.

Re:definitely not! (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856063)

(the pop star says we should vote for...)


The rap star says we should vote for... OR DIE

Re:definitely not! (0, Flamebait)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856079)

We do let people vote at age 18. An 18-year-old is unlikely to have been supporting himself for long, to have effective memories of both recessions and booms, to have a decent understanding of world politics, and so on. Most 18 year olds are still strongly influenced by the various fads and peer pressures of youth, typically as encouraged by the usual large corporations. (the pop star says we should vote for...)

Yup, and that's why we have democrats in office. By the time you hit 30, you realize that the sky isn't pink, that everyone isn't nice, and that bad people really do exist, and if you use logic rather than emotion, you give up the "everything is wonderful" viewpoint.


So really, low turnout of inexperienced people is not bad. We don't need any more people voting for the guy with the attractive haircut.

Far as I'm concerned, if people are too damned lazy to vote, or can't figure out the ballot, they're too stupid/useless to have their opinion matter. Leave the important decisions to the grownups who can actually follow a line to a circle, and who are able to differentiate between useful members of society and leeches.

Re:definitely not! (2, Funny)

modecx (130548) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856639)


Yup, and that's why we have democrats in office. By the time you hit 30, you realize that the sky isn't pink, that everyone isn't nice, and that bad people really do exist, and if you use logic rather than emotion, you give up the "everything is wonderful" viewpoint.


Hah, to some people, the only reason we have democrats in office is because the republicans would run wild, cutting social security, the poor excuse for medical assistance in this country, and you know, they'd piss on lawns and all sorts of shit.

I guess it's true: where you stand depends upon where you sit.
My guess is that you're sitting upon a medium sized, pineapple shaped hemorrhoid, often whilst in the seat of a late model German made sedan.

Re:definitely not! (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856727)

Yup, and that's why we have democrats in office. By the time you hit 30, you realize that the sky isn't pink, that everyone isn't nice, and that bad people really do exist, and if you use logic rather than emotion, you give up the "everything is wonderful" viewpoint.


Exactly. People realize this, and stop voting for Republicans who have their head in the sand, no logical plan other than to increase their personal wealth and power, and vote in people who will actually try and make the world a better place.

Re:definitely not! (4, Insightful)

Gogl (125883) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856145)

And the 60 year old is going to be an intelligent voter? They're not going to blindly vote for any asshole who promises "morality" and "the good old days"?

Face it, all ages of voters have the potential to be (and often are) stupid. Frankly, I've talked to some pretty damn thoughtful 12 year olds. I'm not saying that newborns should vote, but 18 sure as hell is an arbitrary line in the sand. Some people grow up before then, and some never do.

Re:definitely not! (1)

Cold-NiTe (968026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857295)

"Some people grow up before then, and some never do."

There you go. End game. That's all you needed to say.

Re:definitely not! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856213)

> So really, low turnout of inexperienced people is not bad. We don't need any more people voting for the guy with the attractive haircut.

Hey, if I just turned 18, maybe it's just possible that I could actually be more politically informed and qualified to vote than 90% of the 30-year-olds out there. How are you going to determine I'm not?

The important point being, you don't have the power to keep me from voting just because you think I'm voting for a haircut!

Re:definitely not! (1)

kenjay (543752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856399)

Most 18 year olds are still strongly influenced by the various fads and peer pressures of youth. . .
I was in high school when the voting age was lowered to 18 from 21. Many thought US politics would veer sharply to the left (the early 70's were reverberating from the "hippie movement"). It didn't happen. Kids vote pretty much like their parents vote (if they vote at all).

Re:definitely not! (1)

lena_10326 (1100441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856469)

So really, low turnout of inexperienced people is not bad. We don't need any more people voting for the guy with the attractive haircut.
Heavens, they might even vote for public medicine, anti-war candidates, or rights for women, minorities, gays, and transgendered, because that's how those youngins usually vote. Going by history that is.

Re:Nonsense. (2, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856753)

At least the Japanese excuses are better than the Americans. "I'm too lazy to vote" doesnt inspire confidence in a country.

I'm too stupid to be posting a comment. (5, Insightful)

Lordpidey (942444) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855747)

Hey, I just realized, I'm too stupid and uneducated as a person to post comments, please take this away from me.

Re:I'm too stupid to be posting a comment. (2, Funny)

Dan East (318230) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856033)

I thought about modding your post down, thus martyring your post by censoring it. It would prove your point in a very ironic way. But then someone else would post and say that Slashdot should add an "Ironic" moderation. If that existed then your post would be modded back up as Ironic, making it no longer ironic since your post's score would be high. An astute moderator would observe your post is without irony, and would moderate it overrated. Thus would begin a vicious circle consuming Slashdot Moderation points, until none were left to moderate other posts in other stories. First Post posts, spam and trolling would go unchecked without moderator points to hide them, and Slashdot would lose readers because the signal to noise ratio would be so low.

So I thought it best to avoid the entire fiasco by making this post instead, thus removing the lingering temptation to mod the parent down.

Dan East

Re:I'm too stupid to be posting a comment. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856273)

Are you sure you're not thinking of UbuntuDupe [slashdot.org] ?

That's the difference! (5, Insightful)

jforest1 (966315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855753)

...between Japanese and American students. American students think they know everything and people care what they have to say. Japanese students know everything--including that nobody cares.

--josh

Re:That's the difference! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19855827)

Japanese university students hardly know everything. For the most part, university is the first time that they get a tiny bit of intellectual freedom from the test taking grind of junior and senior high. Most of the university students I meet in Japan are still relatively underdeveloped in terms of personality and it is not until their dreaded job search that they start to become part of society. Point in case, usually when someone becomes a full-time employee they are then referred to as "shakai-jin" or a member of society.

That being said, I really wish these students were involved with politics. They could make such a tremendous difference if they even gave the topic the smallest amount of thought. These young people aren't afraid of the changes happening around them and they have a generally positive outlook of the future. The current politicians are just about as corrupt as you can get, and that's saying a lot when you compare that to the current US situation.

Re:That's the difference! (-1, Flamebait)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855915)

Or perhaps there's simply a nation more apathetic than the American one?

Re:That's the difference! (2, Interesting)

badasscat (563442) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855975)

Or perhaps there's simply a nation more apathetic than the American one?

Well, if that's the case, then I'd say their relatively low crime rate (and ridiculously low rate of gun crime), low unemployment, high literacy rate, high median income, and the fact that they haven't been involved in a major war since WWII shows their apathy is working out pretty well for them.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two from their political process? Is is serving us in any way, shape or form to have presidential election campaigns that are now 2 years long? That's what internet campaigning has done for us...

Maybe the fact that Japan has rejected political appeals to a bunch of MySpace losers is actually a *good* thing...

Re:That's the difference! (0)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856221)

It's a lot easier to govern a country that's more than 10 times smaller than the US.

Re:That's the difference! (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856607)

then I'd say their relatively low crime rate (and ridiculously low rate of gun crime)

That's what you get when the commoners have been barred from owning guns and swords for a few hundred years.

low unemployment

5.2%. Not ridiculously low, just a good number. Could stand to go lower.

And a bit higher that the U.S. high median income,

Couldn't find anything on this, got a link? Also, ever notice how much apartment rents are in Japan?

and the fact that they haven't been involved in a major war since WWII

You do remember that the U.S. forced the Japanese after WWII, in their Constitution and military protection treaties, to have an exceedingly small military that is only good for self defense, and that it would need the U.S.'s help if they ever got into an actual war.

They also have a falling population, as the death rate is now higher than the birth rate.

Maybe we could learn a thing or two from their political process? Is is serving us in any way, shape or form to have presidential election campaigns that are now 2 years long? That's what internet campaigning has done for us...

On the other hand, they are restricting the free speech of the candidates. Possibly also the speech of third party groups (think unions/associations in the U.S.) (they didn't say, so I can only guess). Also, the web is a relatively cheap communications medium, this levels the playing field with well funded candidates. Do you really want it so that only candidates with a lot of money can publicize themselves? The candidates also are barred from campaigning for about two weeks prior to the election. Do you really want that as well?

The free speech portion of the first amendment is supposedly for political speech as the number one motivator behind it. Do you really want a law that blatantly, drastically and unreasonably infringes on it?

Re:That's the difference! (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857197)

they haven't been involved in a major war since WWII
They haven't had an official army, which conveniently lets them off the hook. Since World War II, they have relied on the U.S. military for security, and they have provided funding and accomodation for the U.S. military. Willingly or not, directly or indirectly, they have played a supporting role in every war the U.S. has been involved in. One might as well say that the District of Columbia has not been involved in any major wars. During the Korean War, Japan provided massive amounts of materiel and logistical support for the U.S. military, which helped spark Japan's economic recovery. Many Japanese took Japan's involvement in the Korean War as a sign that U.S. and Japanese leaders had decided the pacifism clause in the Japanese constitution was no longer inconvenient and would henceforth be ignored.

Re:That's the difference! (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857207)

no longer inconvenient
I meant "no longer convenient," of course.

Re:That's the difference! (2, Interesting)

Mr. Sketch (111112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856089)

But when it comes to voting, American students think that their vote doesn't count, whereas Japanese students think their vote shouldn't count. Big difference, but ultimately, the same outcome: they don't vote.

Re:That's the difference! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856685)

I suspect Japanese kids saying they "shouldn't" vote is more of a cultural thing. I don't think the difference is actually that big insofar as why they're not voting. If kids aren't voting, no matter where they are, they just don't care enough and, if you could get them to be honest, they'd probably admit they don't *know* enough about what they're supposed to be voting for/against. That and they're probably more cynical about the whole thing than their parents.

Re:That's the difference! (1)

byteframe (924916) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856971)

I'm surprised some fat anime fag didn't want this to get put into "your rights online" because he pretends to live a secret Internet life as a Japanese girl.

Re:That's the difference! (5, Informative)

kklein (900361) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857219)

Um, I teach university here in Japan. I've also taught university in the states. So believe me when I say:

These kids are dumb as rocks. Really, really dumb.

The argument for these people being smart and this education system being good is predicated on test scores. As an educator and an assessor, I can't tell you how dumb that is. Basically (and I speak from experience in the K-12 education system here) no one does any learning in school until a few weeks before a big test, and then everyone crams FOR THE TEST. They don't actually learn anything; they just learn how to take the test. The most immediate place you can see this is by trying to talk to any Japanese college graduate in English. These people have all had about 10 years of English. They should be able to carry on a basic conversation, right? But you'll find that they can only spit out a few words, horribly mispronounced, and usually lacking any kind of syntactic structure. Why? Because they've never been expected to DO anything based on what they studied; they were only asked to pass tests. And they do. But they have zero real-world language--or any other kind of--proficiency, unless they've become involved in something in their careers.

Companies here fill the role we in the Western world give to schools. Now, I have many CS friend who bemoan the fact that they didn't really learn how to program well until they hit the corporate world, but that's not even what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is that some of my English major students walk out of here into programming jobs--with no prior experience or education or even an interest in programming. Why? Because when they interviewed for the company (and you interview for COMPANIES here--not jobs--the company then will decide if they want you and where you should go and what you should do), they looked like the kind of person who'd make a good programmer.

So if that's the case, what is the impetus to learn anything in school? If it has no bearing on your employability, save the name of the school, why bother actually learning about politics, history, language, ANYTHING? Answer: none. There is no reason whatsoever to learn anything, unless you just happen to be interested. So my boys are interested in drinking and getting laid (nothing wrong with either, mind you), and my girls are interested in Prada and Louis Vuitton (and I have no problem with brand goods, either--although I'm a Gaultier man myself). Very few, however, are interested in anything we'd call "important."

Of COURSE there are exceptions. Of course. But the sick and sad thing that I see over and over is that the exceptions--the people who really did learn things and really are aware of their surroundings--do not fare any better than their benighted colleagues. They don't get better jobs. I'm sure that wherever they end up working, they do a better job, but they still get the same kind of generic jobs with the HORRIFYING starting salaries as the idiots around them.

Japan is not a meritocracy, and it shows. They have done very well for themselves by refusing to compete domestically and by keeping foreign entities on a short leash in Japan. But the lack of sound Japanese leadership has had a lot of repercussions that it seems most people don't realize. Look into who runs Nissan. Who has controlling stakes in Mazda. Mitsubishi. Who runs Sony. Etc. These "Japanese" companies--the companies we point to to say "Japan is amazing"--haven't been run by Japanese people for a long time. The exceptions, of course, are Toyota and Honda, and they're big ones. But still.

PLEASE stop buying the Japan hype, people. If you came over here and lived for a few months, you'd be just like every other gaijin, saying "I always thought Japan was X, but it's actually Y!" It is nothing like what you imagine. It is a silly place.

Those damn vans. (5, Informative)

Takichi (1053302) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855773)

The article talks a little about the loud speaker vans candidates usually use to get their message out. I hate them! The volume they blast their cookie cutter pleads for endorsement are as deafening as they are annoying. My house is a little ways from the road that they drive by, and it sounds like they're right outside my window. If you're unlucky enough to be on the side of the road when they pass, you need to cover your ears to prevent damage to your hearing, all while they're smiling and waving in white gloves. The worst is when election day is coming, so you have three or four vans all trying to out do each other.

Sorry, that was a bit of a rant. But it gives you an idea about what those damned trucks are like. After reading this article, it looks like things won't get any better for a while.

Re:Those damn vans. (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856045)

Hrm. I've never personally seen one of those, but I wonder what the legality is of responding with your own megaphone? Maybe even following them around, refuting everything they say over and over, citing examples of negative things they did, etc. Or making a parody campaign running under the platform of banning non-police megaphone use in the streets and tell everyone to vote for you instead

Re:Those damn vans. (1)

MidnightBrewer (97195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856269)

Hrm. I've never personally seen one of those, but I wonder what the legality is of responding with your own megaphone? Maybe even following them around, refuting everything they say over and over, citing examples of negative things they did, etc.
OK, first of all, senselessly refuting everything they say and citing examples of negative things they did is not only incredibly childish, it's also considered slander and harrassment, which is illegal in many countries. Not the best way to make your point.

As a foreigner in Japan, it's also a really good way to get arrested and lose your job. I had a friend of mine who jokingly posted a fake flyer on a designated political materials bulletin board near the train station, and he was called up in front of a disciplinary committee at the board of education. He was given liniency because he was a foreigner who didn't know any better, but he was told that as a teacher, he was expected to maintain a certain image. The Japanese really don't have a sense of humor about these things.

Re:Those damn vans. (1)

Cold-NiTe (968026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857337)

Jesus Christ, don't tell me he was a guy in the JET program... Because that would make the entire system look bad, and I may not get to read my beloved OUTPOST NINE entries by Azrael.

Re:Those damn vans. (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856335)

My understanding was that they do that because every other form of political speech (tv/radio commercials, billboards, signposts, etc.) is heavily regulated, so they feel they have to resort to that to get any attention for less-known candidates. Maybe someone more familiar with Japanese election law can fill in?

Given how stringently they're regulating internet (including YouTube) ads, that's pretty believable.

Re:Those damn vans. (2, Interesting)

Riktov (632) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856989)

In Japan campaign ads on TV and radio (and any other electronic mass-media, I assume) are not allowed in any form. Having experienced both the Japanese campaign vans and the obnoxious election-season American TV ads, I'd say it's a toss-up -- well except for the fact that you can just turn off your damn TV.

Re:Those damn vans. (1)

engineerofsorts (692517) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856579)

Having experienced those damn vans, I would have agree. However, I suspect, as another poster suggested, following them around with your own sound car to contest what they say would be difficult: As with those damn American political adds, there is nothing said worth contesting--same ol' fluff, whether blown through a megaphone sound truck, or through your 70-inch Sony family spiritual center.

Re:Those damn vans. (1)

_xeno_ (155264) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856929)

The article talks a little about the loud speaker vans candidates usually use to get their message out.

Those things are real?! I always thought they were a joke. (Honestly! I can only recall ever seeing them in old cartoons, like old Looney Toons from the 1950s. Which might explain the "throwback to the 1950s" line in the article.)

...

I've tried to come up with something witty to say, but I seem to have failed. Although I suppose the loudspeaker thing is slightly less annoying than the US tradition of simply drawing up the district boundaries such that the whole voting process is basically a formality wherein the incumbents are reelected... (Proud Massachusetts native, home of the Gerrymander! I live in the district directly south of the original Gerrymander!)

Re:Those damn vans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19857369)

If you don't have anything useful to say, then just go and find someone's butt to fuck. I hear they love that in the Gay State.

Breaking the apathy (5, Insightful)

alvinrod (889928) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855777)

'Young people shouldn't be involved, I guess because they're not serious enough or they don't have the education.'

I'm not up to date on the civics education in Japan, but I feel that in America it's sorely lacking and really explains why we have such poor turnouts for our elections. I didn't have Civics (American Government, or whatever you may have had instead) until Senior year in high school, and by then it was obvious that most of the students in my class didn't care. It seemed as though most were content to sleep or slack off during the class or agonize the teacher with idiotic questions or annoying answers.

I think if we would have had the class at a much younger age and a teacher who promoted the importance of voting and participating in government, more students would have been interested in their government and the political process, perhaps to the point that they would research candidates on their own and make informed political decisions or have intelligent political discussion beyond "Bush is a Nazi!"

Looking back on my education as a child, I really wished that there would have been more classes like this at a younger age or just more schooling in general. I look at the other countries where children receive more schooling than here in America and wonder why this isn't something that we as a country aren't attempting to emulate.

Breaking slashdot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19855889)

"Looking back on my education as a child, I really wished that there would have been more classes like this at a younger age or just more schooling in general. I look at the other countries where children receive more schooling than here in America and wonder why this isn't something that we as a country aren't attempting to emulate."

I believe it's called "higher education". Anyway I received the same education as most when it came to civics and history. Solution? I now have an adult-sized library on both subjects and I post on slashdot, upsetting the apple cart every chance I get.

Re:Breaking the apathy (1)

Scotch42 (1120577) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856023)

because providing education to the crowd is to cut the basis of the inique power that drive that same crowd... -- maybe I'm a libertarian, maybe not

Re:Breaking the apathy (1)

Repossessed (1117929) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856621)

I attended three different school systems over the course of my pre-university education. Only one of them covered civics, and it was in the fifth grade, (Come to think, the Uni seemed to skip it too). Not an actual civics course either, the teacher just felt it necessary that we actually *read* the constitution when we got to that lesson in history. The whole thing too. She brought in those little booklet copies for everyone and everything.

I owe her (and all my fifth grade teachers) a lot, not just for that lesson either.

Re:Breaking the apathy (2, Insightful)

try_anything (880404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856845)

I think the quote was referring to education that would enable one to vote intelligently, rather than education that would motivate one to vote. I had plenty of the second kind in elementary school. That could be why I was an idealistic little kid and still am*.

Still, despite the civics classes I had in elementary school and high school, I have a hard time feeling educated when I vote. I try to read every article about local politics I see, but it's like they're written in code. I know what all the words mean, but I don't have a deep understanding of them. I find it much easier to vote on national issues than on local ones. I'm pretty sure that no amount of American effort or manpower can fix Iraq, but I have no idea whether local schools need more money. I have no idea whether property taxes are too high or too low. Sometimes I feel like I should leave voting to people who are better educated, just like the Japanese guy who was quoted.

As I get older, I am starting to figure out why young people have doubts and older adults radiate confidence. As an adult, you get used to faking things, especially things you know you won't be called on to justify. Adults talk as if they have well-grounded opinions about property taxes, school boards, water districts, and so forth, but they're really just repeating things they read or hear. My neighbor seems to know everything about local politics, and he's always enthusiastic about elections. It's intimidating to hear him talk with assurance about local issues. I feel stupid and inadequate, because my understanding of local issues is so vague I can't even articulate it. On the other hand, my neighbor talks with the same assurance about high-performance cars:

Neigbor: "Did you know the 2009 Acura C5X-9000 is going to have neodymium assploditrons? It almost makes it worth it to drive my old 2006 heap another year."
Me: "What the hell is an assploditron?"
Neigbor: "Some cars have assploditrons instead of wickdumpits. Wickdumpits tend to accumulate carbon residue and get bendy. Assploditrons don't have that problem. The neodymium ones will supposedly eliminate bendiness altogether."
Me: "And that improves the efficiency? Or acceleration? Or handling?"
Neigbor: "It improves performance."
Me: "Ah. Performance."
Neigbor: "Yep. You wouldn't believe the difference. You have to experience it."
Me: "So what do assploditrons and wickdumpits do?"
Neigbor: "Well, wickdumpits accumulate carbon residue. Assploditrons don't, especially neodymium ones."
Me: "But what do they do for the car? Why are they there?"
Neigbor: "Ummmmm. I'm not sure. I think they might be part of the drivetrain. Or the injection system."

It's this kind of confident fakery that causes many intelligent people to feel apathetic and inadequate when it comes to voting. Those people should vote. If there's anyone whose votes are needed, it's the people who doubt their own worthiness to vote.

* (I'm a typical American liberal who thinks the United States has the best political system in the world but hates American complacency and keeps obsessive mental lists of things we could do better and foreign examples we could learn from.)

there's a reason (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855787)

Strange (1)

zionian117 (1068050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855919)

Japanese youth are strange! When the youuth of rest of the world want to have more voice in the political process they don't think they are mature... wtf? And anything that prevents politicians to reach that core group is bound to have lasting consequences to the nation.

Re:Strange (2, Informative)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856899)

While things are changing somewhat, there are two cultural elements at work here: the first is a strong value on humility and modesty about one's self and one's family that pervades society. Bragging and bravado is not thought well of whatsoever. Also, there remains a lot of deference to age and experience: until one has proven oneself, there's little value in what one might think or say.

Vote for Shinzo Abe! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856007)

Shinzo Abe!
Shinzo Abe!
He has my vote!

good rule (4, Insightful)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855811)

Im not sure what the implications of this are in Japan, if it ensures all parties get the same air time Id say its good.
If used by the ruling parties to stifle others, ofcourse not so good.
A totally open system will only favour the party with most money/biggest corporate backers.

Where I live political ads on tv are illegal, and I think most agree its for the best. Anyone wanting to sling mud on another candidate has to do so face to face in a debate, and be ready to back it up or be called on it.

Re:good rule (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856059)

I've long thought that all forms of election advertising should be illegal and "reaching the voters" should be done exclusively through debates where everyone gets equal air time. You shouldn't have to be able to afford TV commercials to run in an election.

Re:good rule (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856657)

I wouldn't advocate going that far. Media such as web sites and email, which are within the reach of practically everyone, should still be permitted.

In the UK, paid TV and radio advertisements are banned, but you can still campaign via posters, leaflets and print advertisements.

The main problem with excessive restrictions is that you hand a substantial advantage to the incumbents, who will usually get substantial media coverage due to their position.

I suspect that has a lot to do with the Japanese system. As it stands, the ruling LDP gets far more airtime simply due to day-to-day (i.e. "non-election") political coverage.

Re:good rule (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856767)

There are drawbacks with both systems. I think election signs are the worst. They have no information whatsoever about the candidate or the issues. Leaflets aren't far behind, along with all the radio, TV and print ads. I've heard too many people say they were going to vote for the candidate with the last sign they saw before walking into the polling booth.

I'm not sure the incumbent would benefit from getting more media coverage... the challengers might just as easily benefit.

Web sites might be okay... the problem is, it's really hard to get your site noticed without money for advertising. Maybe an official election site that has links to all the candidates would work.

Still, I think a series of televised debates would work well. Most people have a TV or know someone who does, and if you don't you can go to the debate in person. That way you see all the candidates and there isn't any TV magic or unchallenged half truths. Anybody who can't be bothered to watch the debate... well, it's probably better they don't vote anyway.

Candidate research (1)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855837)

As a voter (not in Japan, but in another country), I found the easiest methof to find out who I was voting for is the Internet - a quick way to determine the platform of each political candidate. Some of the candidates don't have a website, but a quick search on other information didn't pull up anything - which usually indicates a minor candidate.

In my opinion, restricting the use of websites would make research more difficult - if everyone was serious about voting (which isn't the case) where they would contact or do quick research on each candidate, it would bog down the campaign offices with questions (especially if a statement gets made that may need clarification.)

I'm for keeping the campaign serious, but it shouldn't lock down the methods used to contact the candidates (unless such methods are disruptive - another story.)

Japan Bans Use of Web Sites in Elections (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19855849)

The title makes more sense when you remember that the Japanese mix up their l's and r's.

Actually... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856459)

They only have one syllable, where the tongue touches the roof of the mouth (like the L) but where the tongue is in the front of the mouth (like the R), which is why they have trouble distinguishing and pronouncing the two.  Hell, it can even sound a bit like a D in, say, the "ru" syllable.

Joke ---> .

|  0
| \|/  <-- Me
| / \

Wait?  What?  Something went whooshing over my head?  Sorry, I'm a bit hard of hearing ever since I went deaf in my right ear.  Erections?  Huh?

Re: Japan Bans Use of Web Sites in Elections (1)

Jerf (17166) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856711)

An interesting theory... [google google google]... but apparently a false one.

Sounds like a great way to protect the status quo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19855897)

I'm surprised our esteemed congress hasn't suggested something similar for the US homeland.

Re:Sounds like a great way to protect the status q (4, Interesting)

PMBjornerud (947233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856051)

Living in Japan, I have various issues with the Japenese political system. Not being Japanese, I don't think it's my job to make any changes, though.

It's definetely impacted by the seniority system that permeates the country. If you're old, you have a say, if you're young, you do what you're told. Obviously this is not a hard rule, but there definetely is such a trend. The standard view is that such a system would encouage some serious corruption (having a real and powerful organizations of organized crime does not help, they assasinated a difficult major during the last election).

I can't say I understand the Japanese democratic systems. I'm sure it protects the status quo, will probably change, though will change very slowly as the next 2 generations grow up. The system works somehow, and people still have to option to change things if they get completely out of hand.

Maybe they should the age when you can vote (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855961)

How about 45? Most people are pretty serious by then. Humor and lightheartedness have no place in government, or in this post :-) Maybe they shouldn't let the candidates campaign. Just post their voting record and the people can discuss amongst themselves. The more I think about it, the more I like it. It would cut way down on false promises and other deceptions.

Re:Maybe they should the age when you can vote (1)

try_anything (880404) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857225)

By that age most people think the world was perfect when they were young and youth culture is the cause of all social problems.

Because of fossils (0, Flamebait)

unity100 (970058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19855979)

They are old. they dont understand internet. they cant cope with younger candidates who will be using websites, whereas they dont understand jack about it. Hence, they just ban it. That simple.

Popularity contest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856009)

As long as politics is a competition where the peacocks that preen and squark the loudest are elected we will have useless leaders and live in a dangerous world. The very attributes that make a person successful at winning popularity contests make them ineffective leaders. Those qualities are
vanity, ego, power lust, ambition, self-importance... it is astonishingly obvious I think that the majority of those who are involved in politics today are mentally ill to some degree and would be diagnosed with personality disorder.

In an age of nuclear and biological weapons we can no longer afford to select leaders and representatives because _they__want_ to be in power. I think we all realise this in our hearts and that worldwide dissolutionment with "democracy" is a reflection of it.

Look at Hillary Clinton, the woman is so desperate for power she is practically foaming at the mouth with lust. She says one thing one day and reverses it the next, she will say anything to anybody that makes her ego dream of being president closer. You can SMELL her desperation and it's so ugly! Can you imagine the destruction and misery such a mentally inconsistent person would cause in office? These japanese kids get it... democracy does not work and we need a better way.

It's said democracy is the worst of all the the methods we have tried. But there is one method we have not tried....

A workable solution to maintain democracy is to randomly select a congress/parliament. Any random selection of citizens from 18-80 years old
would be infinitely better than the shower of shit we have in offcie today or can expect in office tomorrow if we alow them to self-select.

Election Day (3, Informative)

shalmaneser1 (916406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856103)

I recently saw a documentary called "Election Day" about a Japanese man running for office. While noting that Japanese documentaries stylistically are very different than modern American documentaries: what happens, boring or not is what you see; it's still incredibly interesting.

There seem to be no television ads, no yard signs with slogans, no big campaign rallies. Instead there's the use of existing events: politicians visiting school exhibitions, attending morning exercise programs for the elderly, and so on.

There's also a lot of the politician himself walking around town, introducing himself to people on the street, and standing around with a bullhorn at various popular locations ( ex. the train station ) apologising for the intrusion and explaining his views on things to anyone who will listen ( no one ever seems to stop and listen for very long ).

In what seems to be the culmination of the campaign there's even a bizarre bus tour around the small town while he and his wife shout things over a pa and wave politely from the bus.

In contrast with American politics -- it's strange to say the least.

All in all though it was refreshing to see a politician taking cat naps in his ultra tiny car and pounding the pavement all by himself to connect with everyday people and to drum up votes.

Re:Election Day (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856623)

Sounds like what the representatives do in the U.S., state and congress. They go door to door where I live (Northern, VA).

Won't last forever (1, Interesting)

VonSkippy (892467) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856163)

Luckily, the problem is self solving. Japan has the oldest (and therefore the most dying) population of any civilized nation. In a few generations, either the Country will be gone, or over run with care-taker robots. In either case, hawking political hogwash via the net will be the least of their worries.

Re:Won't last forever (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856577)

The population will stil be 70 million in 2095

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Japan #Basic_facts [wikipedia.org]

I actually think that aging will be stopped or reversed for rich people in the developed world before then, so it will be quite a bit higher than this. The odd thing is that everyone was worrying about overpopulation up until a few years ago when it became clear that birth rates drop dramatically once infant mortality does, i.e. human population is self stabilising.

I'm voting for godzilla (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856219)

Godzilla for president!!

Anyone who decides not to vote for the monster party candidate will be transformed into a tasty gojira snack.

>>> !!!! ** YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED ** !!!!

Title somewhat misleading (4, Insightful)

achurch (201270) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856223)

It's not that Japan "just banned" the use of web sites; it's that the law as written doesn't allow it, and hasn't been changed (in relevant part) since the web came about. Or rather, it's that the law is believed not to allow web sites; a few candidates that tried it got a warning that it "might" break the law, and none of them were willing to actually take it to the courts. (Interestingly enough, in this election the political parties have started posting their non-candidate members' speeches, arguing that they're allowed as descriptions of party activities rather than restricted candidate activities. We'll have to see how that holds up.)

Incidentally, a similar problem with videos of campaign speeches was discussed here in April [slashdot.org] .

That's OK (1)

ml10422 (448562) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856263)

I guess I'm OK with the ban. I couldn't read all those funny Japanese characters, anyway.

Japan at Election Time (4, Interesting)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856275)

I've been in Japan at election time. There's a distinct lack of information to go off:

* You'll find each neighborhood plastered with election posters from 30 or so candidates. These show the candidate grinning or looking stern, their name and a 'Vote for Tanaka'.

* Election Vans drive around the neighborhood saying 'I am Tanaka. I am Tanaka. Please Vote for me. I am Tanaka. I am Tanaka. Please Vote for me. I am Tanaka. I am Tanaka. Please Vote for me.' These annoy the crap out of everyone.

* That's all folks! Try making your choice off of that!

* Websites would have given a place for some intelligent debate, because you get nothing from the above. If you watch NHK's News Hour you will get some reasonably intelligent analysis, but for local issues you have to rely on the local stations and they do next to no politics. If your household watches the variety show or the kids want to watch anime channels instead, you'll get no information at all.

* There's only one real party: The LDP. Sure, there are fringe parties, but apart from one glitch (quickly) corrected the LDP have always held power. (Don't get too cocky: In the US the Republicans and Democrats are pretty similar. Last Election both Pro-War and Pro-Big Business.)

* Most Japanese don't talk politics. They've realized it doesn't make a difference. They try and carve out a living and hope the politicians leave them alone (Again don't get cocky. The hours you spend sitting around shooting the breeze with your buddies might feel good, but ultimately makes no difference either.)

* There's a big disaster looming in Japan because the pension system has been paying out more than is coming in. This has been known for 20 years, but no one has had the guts to do anything about it. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to Save Japan? He's going to make sure children know how to use chopsticks. Other than that, he's done nothing. How did Abe get elected? He didn't. The LDP appointed him. His Grandpa was an important politician and now it's "his turn".

Re:Japan at Election Time (2, Interesting)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856477)

Wow, Japan sounds like a less annoying version of the United States, right down to the failing national pension system.

Re:Japan at Election Time (1)

revengebomber (1080189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857173)

It's less annoying because the exported all their annoyances. Now if you'll excuse me, there's a group of middle schoolers across the street screaming "kawaii" at the top of their lungs. (Get off my lawn!)

Bliss (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857301)

On the bright side, if you choose to remain ignorant the anime is pretty good. :-) http://animesuki.com/ [animesuki.com]

Re:Japan at Election Time (2, Interesting)

Rocketship Underpant (804162) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857131)

You're quite right. I live in Japan at the moment, and as far as I can tell, Japan is barely a democracy. There's one party that always gets elected and decides everything, and the average person neither cares nor talks about politics. That doesn't mean people don't have a sense of civic duty; au contraire, they're very active in the nighbourhood and in their kids' schools.

Japan's culture is different, and I suspect it's the possibility of public shame and humiliation that restrains corruption -- the minister who recently committed suicide over what in the West would be a minor scandal comes to mind. The people don't seem to "believe" in democracy, "making their vote matter", or foisting their views on others; they simply live and let live, and I think that's a healthier attitude than many people in the West have, who seem to think life is all about politics and electing a government that gives you what you want.

Re:Japan at Election Time (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857359)

> You're quite right. I live in Japan at the moment, and as far as I can tell, Japan is barely a democracy. There's one party that always gets elected and decides everything, and the average person neither cares nor talks about politics.

In much of the West, there are two parties which between then always get elected and decide everything. We act like we have a choice, but I'm not so sure. Millions of people in the US, the UK and Australia marched against the war, and our leaders took us to war anyway. Not really a democracy either, but we feel better if we call it that.

> That doesn't mean people don't have a sense of civic duty; au contraire, they're very active in the nighbourhood and in their kids' schools.

A friend who works in Japan noted to me in the West the Government cleans the pavement. In Japan, the shopkeepers clean the pavement in front of their shop. Either way, the street is cleaned, and perhaps even better and more often.

> Japan's culture is different, and I suspect it's the possibility of public shame and humiliation that restrains corruption -- the minister who recently committed suicide over what in the West would be a minor scandal comes to mind.

The Japanese concept of admitting a mistake and taking responsibility is pretty nice. It works too, because the people you apologize to accept it and everyone gets on with their lives. By comparison, apologizing in the West is seen as an admission of liability. It's said that Japan has more flower arrangers than it has lawyers, and the flower arrangers can get better results :-)

> The people don't seem to "believe" in democracy, "making their vote matter", or foisting their views on others; they simply live and let live, and I think that's a healthier attitude than many people in the West have, who seem to think life is all about politics and electing a government that gives you what you want.

Amen.

Re:Japan at Election Time (2, Informative)

Bueller_007 (535588) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857149)

1) There is constant political and election coverage of election on the web (try Yahoo, etc. which have whole sites dedicated to election info.) Only political candidates are banned from updating their web pages. There is not suddenly a blanket thrown over the entire Japanese internet media.

2) There is constant political and election coverage in newspapers. How did you forget about those? As I recall, Japan has the highest newspaper readership in the world.

3) There is a lot of political and election coverage on television.

4) Contrary to what you state, the purpose of posters and election vans is surely not to provide insight into a politician's campaign platform. They are merely for publicity--the extremely annoying but more sanitary and time-efficient Japanese equivalent of shaking hands and kissing babies.

5) The LDP has indeed been the dominant power in Japanese politics since WWII, but you must realize that the LDP is a collection of competing factions with different political views that ***run candidates against each other***. In addition to all of these competing factions within the LDP, there are currently five other parties who have members in either the Upper or Lower House of the Diet.

6) Japanese people may not talk about politics with YOU, but you can't necessarily misconstrue this as a lack of interest (especially on the part of older people). Voter turnout in Japan is consistently higher than in America. 67.5% in 2005, 56.4% in 2004.

7) No, of course Abe didn't get elected. At least not by the public. He's a *prime minister*, not a *president*. But don't act like he was just appointed by the LDP out of the blue. He was elected by the Diet (each member of which was elected by the public). You're confusing his role as prime minister with his role as president of the LDP. The two are not the same. This doesn't change the fact that he's a miserable bastard and a terrible leader, but you're absolutely wrong on your charges.

Re:Japan at Election Time (1)

BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857285)

> There is constant political and election coverage of election on the web (try Yahoo, etc. which have whole sites dedicated to election info.) Only political candidates are banned from updating their web pages. There is not suddenly a blanket thrown over the entire Japanese internet media.

I doubt news sites will be writing opinion pieces on the views of every candidate standing. A lot will remain unheard. It would be best if they could write it themselves, and the web would have been a good way for candidates to get their views to the voters they are trying to court, without having them "filtered" by a news site. Especially so since young people in Japan are very "wired" by world standards.

> There is constant political and election coverage in newspapers. How did you forget about those? As I recall, Japan has the highest newspaper readership in the world.

The Japanese media, both TV and print, are shy of controversy. The (English Language) Japan Times, which does occasionally tread on toes, is an unusual newspaper by Japanese standards.

> 3) There is a lot of political and election coverage on television.

Only if they're being watched. I've lived in households where neither news or current affairs never graced the screen.

> 4) Contrary to what you state, the purpose of posters and election vans is surely not to provide insight
> into a politician's campaign platform. They are merely for publicity--the extremely annoying but more
> sanitary and time-efficient Japanese equivalent of shaking hands and kissing babies.

Posters+Loudspeakers (esp without policies) are useless. It's a photo and annoying loudspeaker that tells you nothing about the candidate. Western baby kissing is equally useless, but they can at least voice their policies.

> 5) The LDP has indeed been the dominant power in Japanese politics since WWII, but you must realize that the LDP is a collection of competing factions with different political views that ***run candidates against each other***. In addition to all of these competing factions within the LDP, there are currently five other parties who have members in either the Upper or Lower House of the Diet.

All parties have factions, and like I said I don't pretend the west is any better: Republicans and Democrats have far more similarities than they have differences.

> 6) Japanese people may not talk about politics with YOU, but you can't necessarily misconstrue this as a lack of interest (especially on the part of older people). Voter turnout in Japan is consistently higher than in America. 67.5% in 2005, 56.4% in 2004.

Without laying my life story bare for you, let's say I have it on good authority. Japanese people don't sit around and talk politics. Why waste time discussing what you can't change?

> 7) No, of course Abe didn't get elected. At least not by the public. He's a *prime minister*, not a *president*. But don't act like he was just appointed by the LDP out of the blue. He was elected by the Diet (each member of which was elected by the public). You're confusing his role as prime minister with his role as president of the LDP. The two are not the same. This doesn't change the fact that he's a miserable bastard and a terrible leader, but you're absolutely wrong on your charges.

You're splitting hairs: Remember in the US people vote for an electoral college who in turn choose the President. Is that to say the President isn't elected either? Now in a Parliamentary Democracy, you vote for your local representative who is a member of the political party who in turn votes for someone from that political party to head it. Different names, but same animal.

It would be fair to say Koizumi, despite his foibles, *was* elected and at the time, he espoused a vision that got people excited. He stepped down, not because he wanted to go, but because of a power sharing arrangement that said he had to give Shinzo Abe a go. Ah Shinzo... I don't even think his mama is excited about him.

Uninvolved? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856295)

Despite heavy internet usage and a strong installed base of high-speed connectivity, young people just don't feel involved in politics.

Unlike in the United States.

Protect the political stablishment (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856317)

You know, these things are not 'serious' or 'educated' enough to invade our holy elections, we cannot let it to get into the voters attention... they could listen to it. What's worse is that we have absolutely no control over it, some guy in his basement could make a video and submit it to youtube, at least with the other ways (the expensive ways) there's more control regarding who is able to spread political speech...

Once the politicians begin to "protect" the citizens from certain kind of speeches or media...

This doesn't make a lot of sense. (1)

Cracked Pottery (947450) | more than 7 years ago | (#19856353)

The Internet is a cheap and egalitarian medium. Without knowledge of Japanese politics, it is hard judge the effect. There is something useful about retail politics, so maybe politicians should be walking the streets. I don't know, for example, if there is an equivalent of Fox News acting as a division of a major Japanese party. The 3% leaflet rule seems like it might be hard to monitor. As far as young people not having good judgment, that depends on whether they agree with me.

Well that's all well and good... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19856723)

...but Japan does have its own little political system, which I would argue has at least some advantages over the American system. The biggest example is that they make it very easy for just about everyone to run for office, and gathering a certain (relatively small) amount of support means you get official coverage as a candidate. Specifically, you were allowed a certain amount of air time on public television besides every other candidate that would allow you to publicly declare your platform, all for free.

I could understand their motivation to do something like this. I think their main concern is to prevent the very rich candidates from completely overwhelming every single other candidate, pushing aside the "casuality" of the internet.

Manjusha's Comment (1)

manjusha (1127921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19857101)

this is manjusha's comment.
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