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Promoting Political Participation through Experience-based Political Education
Unformatted Document Text:  issue, or expand their interest to related issues. Since Japan is now considering to lower the voting age to 18, such political education programs as ours that aim to cultivate young people’s positive attitudes toward politics can proactively deal with the shared problem of low voting rates among the youth. Furthermore, it is the authors’ believe that as these youth sustain their high civic participation, and consequently high political participation as cohort, our democracy will be stabilized. Chapter 1: Where and How Political Socialization Takes Place in Japan 1) Late Political Socialization Model: Characteristics of Political Socialization in Japan The studies of the Japanese political socialization have explained that in Japan, principle agents for political socialization are not family, school or mass media, but social organizations people belong to, such as corporations, trade unions or business associations 8 . It is supposed that young people strengthen their relations with certain political parties which represent the interest of their affiliating organizations, and in that process, they increase their political interest and start their political participation. The importance of political socialization at a later stage is proven by the fact that people in their late 20s rapidly shift their interests from private matters such as travel or hobby to public matters 9 . The youth before this stage are themselves aware of their political immaturity, thus both adult and young respondents to one survey are opposed to lowering voting age to 18, stating “18-year olds are not capable of making political judgments.” 10 This pattern of responses has never changed over a generation 11 . This means that the formation of Japanese political attitudes are more subject to the social and economic situations of the time, or greater generational effects are found among Japanese. Miller and Shanks, through their cohort analysis for the American voters, pointed out that there are New Deal cohort (1932-64), pre-New Deal cohort and post-New Deal cohort in American 8 Kazuhisa Kawakami, “Meaning of Politics for the Youth,” in Hiroshi Akuto, ed., Social Psychology of Political Action, Tokyo: Fukumura Shuppan, 1994. 9 Ichiro Miyake, Political Participation and Voting Behavior: Political Life in Urban Areas, Kyoto: Minerva-Shobo, 1990. 10 According to “Survey on Political Opinions (1971)” conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 20.6 % supported lowering voter age while 52.2 % opposed. Among the age group between 16 and 19, 33.8 % supported while 49.0 % opposed. The most-cited reason for opposition was that“18-year olds cannot have enough capability to make political judgments.” See Masamichi Ida, The Tide of Japanese Politics, Tokyo: Hokuju Shuppan, 2007, pp. 27-39. 11 According to a survey on voting age by Tokyo Prefecture (2003), 20-year old, 72.9 %; 18-year old, 21.2 %. According to a survey on 18-year old voting age by Kansai University (2005), support, 32.5 %; oppose, 32.2 %; neither, 24.2 %; don’t know 7.8 %. Among those opposed, 49.5 % gave “not yet capable to make political judgments” as the reason. 5

Authors: Ishibashi, Shoichiro. and Chieko, Otsuru.
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issue, or expand their interest to related issues.
Since Japan is now considering to lower the voting age to 18, such political education
programs as ours that aim to cultivate young people’s positive attitudes toward politics can
proactively deal with the shared problem of low voting rates among the youth. Furthermore, it is
the authors’ believe that as these youth sustain their high civic participation, and consequently high
political participation as cohort, our democracy will be stabilized.
Chapter 1: Where and How Political Socialization Takes Place in Japan
1) Late Political Socialization Model: Characteristics of Political Socialization in Japan
The studies of the Japanese political socialization have explained that in Japan, principle
agents for political socialization are not family, school or mass media, but social organizations
people belong to, such as corporations, trade unions or business associations
. It is supposed that
young people strengthen their relations with certain political parties which represent the interest of
their affiliating organizations, and in that process, they increase their political interest and start their
political participation. The importance of political socialization at a later stage is proven by the fact
that people in their late 20s rapidly shift their interests from private matters such as travel or hobby
to public matters
. The youth before this stage are themselves aware of their political immaturity,
thus both adult and young respondents to one survey are opposed to lowering voting age to 18,
stating “18-year olds are not capable of making political judgments.”
This pattern of responses
has never changed over a generation
This means that the formation of Japanese political attitudes are more subject to the
social and economic situations of the time, or greater generational effects are found among
Japanese. Miller and Shanks, through their cohort analysis for the American voters, pointed out that
there are New Deal cohort (1932-64), pre-New Deal cohort and post-New Deal cohort in American
8
Kazuhisa Kawakami, “Meaning of Politics for the Youth,” in Hiroshi Akuto, ed., Social Psychology of Political
Action, Tokyo: Fukumura Shuppan, 1994.
9
Ichiro Miyake, Political Participation and Voting Behavior: Political Life in Urban Areas, Kyoto:
Minerva-Shobo, 1990.
10
According to “Survey on Political Opinions (1971)” conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, 20.6 %
supported lowering voter age while 52.2 % opposed. Among the age group between 16 and 19, 33.8 % supported
while 49.0 % opposed. The most-cited reason for opposition was that“18-year olds cannot have enough capability
to make political judgments.” See Masamichi Ida, The Tide of Japanese Politics, Tokyo: Hokuju Shuppan, 2007, pp.
27-39.
11
According to a survey on voting age by Tokyo Prefecture (2003), 20-year old, 72.9 %; 18-year old, 21.2 %.
According to a survey on 18-year old voting age by Kansai University (2005), support, 32.5 %; oppose, 32.2 %;
neither, 24.2 %; don’t know 7.8 %. Among those opposed, 49.5 % gave “not yet capable to make political
judgments” as the reason.
5


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