Japan: Is AKB48 the remedy for voter apathy
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Japan: Is AKB48 the remedy for voter apathy

Whether you’ve finally exhaled after holding your breath for the past few months, or you’re harvesting salt from your tears, it’s safe to say that the recent American Presidential Election captured the attention of people across the world.

Coming from a country where voting is compulsory, I was baffled by how many of my American friends were quick to voice their opinions on politics, but not cast a ballot.

This year, voter turn-out was down almost 10 per cent, compared to 2008 meaning that only 57.5 per cent of eligible voters took part in the 2012 election.  That’s down from 62.3 per cent and 60.4 per cent in 2008 and 2004, respectively.

Japan doesn’t have quite the same problem as the US. While voting isn’t compulsory, almost 70 per cent of eligible voters went to the polls at the last Lower House election in 2009.

None the less, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government wants to make sure they get as many voters to come to the next gubernatorial election as possible. And they’re doing that with the help of ABK48.

The Mainichi reports that three members, Minami Takahashi, Tomomi Itano, and Yui Yokoyama will be appearing in videos and on almost 100,000 posters all over Tokyo, accompanied by the slogan, “I choose the next Tokyo governor.”

A website and facebok fan page will also launch on November 26 in preparation for the December 16 election.

This is the second time the Tokyo Metropolitan Government has called on AKB to help encourage voter turnout.

The first time the girls were asked to lend a hand, in April 2011, the number of Tokyoites who came to vote aged 20 and over reportedly increased 3.45 per cent, up to almost 60 per cent.  Japan Today reports that the voter turnout for 20-40 year-olds is thought to have increased by as much as 6%.

So what do you think? Would a short skirt and cute smile encourage you to go to the polls?