by Miki Imamura
Japan is supposed to be a democratic country. We choose our representatives by election; those who are elected decide how to carry our national policy and how to spend our tax. As a nation, we share equality in selecting our representatives by having a suffrage. (I would like to put the issues of suffrage for immigrants aside at this time; because it would be a long discussion.) However, I think equality is not feasible, or we are making it unfeasible in Japan. We have just finished our election for the House of Representatives. I saw unfeasible condition of equality in this election by two elements, which are nations not exercising equality of access and constituency system making our equality unfeasible.
Election is the chance for nation to choose how we want Japan to be like. However, at the election we have just finished, only 59.32% of electors voted. According to the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications, the most common reason for abstention is that election is not that important things for them. Personally, most of my friends who do not vote say that they do not know about politics and they think their absence of one vote would not be affect the results.
http://www.soumu.go.jp/main_content/000153570.pdf 目で見る投票率 総務省 選挙部
Including me, there are probably few people who has strong policy opinion about current political issues such as TPP, Nuclear power plant, and Japanese defense with full understanding of the issues. Some of them may think that making a decision is not their job, that is politician’s jobs. I think this is renounce of equality of access. Election is admirably access of equality for making our day life policy, however, more than 40% of population renounce it.
Secondly, Japanese constituency system creates quite a lot of wasted vote. Japanese constituency system is electoral system comprised of single-seat constituencies and proportionally represented multiple-seat constituencies. The numbers of seat for single-seat constituencies are 300, for proportionally represented multiple-seat constituencies are 180.
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/election/shugiin/2012/ 衆院選2012 YOMIURI ONLINE
As you can see that number of seats won by the Liberal Democratic Party at the proportional representation is about 30%. However, 80% of the seats had taken by Liberal Democratic Party at the single-member electorate system. In addition, only one candidate is elected in the single-seat constituency system, therefore there are full of wasted vote below second place. Approximately 37.3 million votes of all 300 single-member electorate system became wasted vote, which is 56% of all votes at the single-member electorate system. (時事通信, 2012) More than 50% of votes are wasted. Even though the single-member electorate system is effective to have stable political situation, ignoring more than 50% of votes are not feasible to exercise the equality of nations.
In conclusion, equality in Japan in its election matter cannot be said feasible. Nations make it feasible and system make it feasible. Nation has to improve its understanding level for national issues and consider its importance of being part of policy making. Constituency system should be changed to make sure that at least less than 40% of votes would be wasted. The majority of votes must not be wasted. Japan supposed to be a democratic country, however in its election matter, equality cannot be said it is feasible.
時事通信. (2012, 12 17). 死票率56％に上昇＝民主は惨敗で8割超―衆院選【12衆院選】. Retrieved 12 20, 2012, from Yahoo!ニュース: http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20121217-00000160-jij-pol