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Promoting Political Participation through Experience-based Political Education
Unformatted Document Text:  promote the political efficacy of the youth. The sense of political efficacy is closely related with their image of politics: whether they feel the government as complicated or they are unable to express their opinions about electoral or parliamentary systems. These in turn make them feel that they are not capable enough to make political judgments. To reverse this vicious circle, we have to help them understand the actuality of politics and government, but a knowledge-based program is not the answer, since students have already gone through such programs at school. Also, we have to be quite sensitive to the political neutrality and try not to bring the partisan conflicts or electoral politics straight into the program, although the current government policy tends to overly emphasize political neutrality at the cost of failing to deliver the important elements in the political education. What is more, we have to make sure that students are not just satisfied with following the day-to-day political developments, in place of institutional knowledge they learn at school. Since Japanese junior and high school students are not so much familiar with current affairs, it may take up a greater part of the program time just to have them understand the very basis of the current affairs, such as the coalition partner of the Liberal Democratic Party is not Japan Democratic Party, but Clean Government Party. When we build the program, civil society and the principles of democracy should be included, and constitute the core of the program. For the civil society is based on the free individuals thinking freely at their own responsibility, and the principles of democracy teach us to adopt the idea as public policies which are supported by the majority of such free-thinking individuals. We should avoid such programs that do not take into consideration the complicated nature of political socialization, and thus might lead to a political indoctrination. If we focus more on the free-thinking and discussion than knowledge acquisition, the program should emphasize experiences. But our program is not based on actual participation in the politics, but on a simulated process. This is partly due to the time constraint, but more importantly, due to the level of political development at the ages of participating students. Instead of overwhelming them with the details of political actors, we aimed to have them be aware of the existence of various actors with different values. Or instead of feeding the technicalities of interest reconciliation, we aim to have them notice that the essence of politics is such attempt for reconciliation. In these ways, we believe we can build the basis among them to think about politics and understand political participation. Through the free-thinking and discussion in the simulated political process, students will meet various values and learn the differences, just as through service-leaning programs and voluntary activities. Some of the values may be acceptable for them, while others may not. But 23

Authors: Ishibashi, Shoichiro. and Chieko, Otsuru.
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promote the political efficacy of the youth. The sense of political efficacy is closely related with
their image of politics: whether they feel the government as complicated or they are unable to
express their opinions about electoral or parliamentary systems. These in turn make them feel that
they are not capable enough to make political judgments.
To reverse this vicious circle, we have to help them understand the actuality of politics
and government, but a knowledge-based program is not the answer, since students have already
gone through such programs at school. Also, we have to be quite sensitive to the political neutrality
and try not to bring the partisan conflicts or electoral politics straight into the program, although the
current government policy tends to overly emphasize political neutrality at the cost of failing to
deliver the important elements in the political education. What is more, we have to make sure that
students are not just satisfied with following the day-to-day political developments, in place of
institutional knowledge they learn at school. Since Japanese junior and high school students are not
so much familiar with current affairs, it may take up a greater part of the program time just to have
them understand the very basis of the current affairs, such as the coalition partner of the Liberal
Democratic Party is not Japan Democratic Party, but Clean Government Party.
When we build the program, civil society and the principles of democracy should be
included, and constitute the core of the program. For the civil society is based on the free
individuals thinking freely at their own responsibility, and the principles of democracy teach us to
adopt the idea as public policies which are supported by the majority of such free-thinking
individuals. We should avoid such programs that do not take into consideration the complicated
nature of political socialization, and thus might lead to a political indoctrination.
If we focus more on the free-thinking and discussion than knowledge acquisition, the
program should emphasize experiences. But our program is not based on actual participation in the
politics, but on a simulated process. This is partly due to the time constraint, but more importantly,
due to the level of political development at the ages of participating students. Instead of
overwhelming them with the details of political actors, we aimed to have them be aware of the
existence of various actors with different values. Or instead of feeding the technicalities of interest
reconciliation, we aim to have them notice that the essence of politics is such attempt for
reconciliation. In these ways, we believe we can build the basis among them to think about politics
and understand political participation.
Through the free-thinking and discussion in the simulated political process, students will
meet various values and learn the differences, just as through service-leaning programs and
voluntary activities. Some of the values may be acceptable for them, while others may not. But
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