I went to the Japanese Consulate in Toronto in order to vote for the House of Councilor Selection. When I say this to my Japanese friends, they always say “I’m so impressed” and it makes me very sad, since it is commonsense to me and it should be commonsense to everyone.
When Japanese citizens want to vote in an election outside of Japan, they need to go through a process before they can vote. First, what I did was I submitted my residence papers at the Consulate. Second, I registered for an Overseas Election Card at the Consulate three months after submitting my residence papers. Finally, I got this Election Card via mail two months after registering for it. After that, I could vote in Japanese elections in Canada. I passed each of these processes three years ago. Fortunately, now, I heard that this process is a little bit simpler than what I did. But before voting, Japanese citizens still have to do some paperwork and this takes time. It means that it is too late to prepare after you learn about a voting day, since there is a very short time from a public announcement to a voting day.
In the case of the 2019 House of Councilor Selection, the public announcement day is July 4th, the voting period in Toronto is July 5th to 13th, and the voting day in Japan is July 21st.
Many people are busy every day, and they forget the process to get their Overseas Election Card, give up voting, or lose interest in any elections or politics.
When I went to vote at the Consulate, I asked an office lady how many people vote each election. Her answer was that it is usually around 110 people and maximum 200 people, based on her experience. I was shocked, since I knew of 13,725 Japanese people living in Toronto in 2017 according to the statistics from the official website of Japan. This number is including children as well, yet still so many people neglect to vote.
I asked the lady why so many people don’t cast a vote in the election. She didn’t answer my question, but she asked me to go promote voting to my friends.
To be honest, I did. However, it hasn’t worked at all. When I received an email from the Consulate which informed me about the coming election, I was in the office and brought up the election to my Japanese colleagues. However, no one said “I will vote”. On top of all that, they asked me “why are you interested in politics?”. My answer was that only politicians can create laws and we have to follow the law, so why don’t we go voting? All of my colleagues suddenly became very quiet and returned to their work.
Japanese people living in foreign countries have many possibilities to have different points of view compared to those living in Japan due to knowing other countries’ politics. Each one of them needs to think about Japanese politics as a Japanese citizen for the future of Japan. It is not something that should impress people, it is something that should feel necessary.
Frankly, I cannot imagine the feelings of those who don’t go to vote, but I want to promote voting through my Japanese blog, and also this English blog as well, even though it has very limited influence. Maybe I can help spread more commonsense.