Election views


The election may be over, but this survey from @nifty took a look at views regarding this election and elections in general.

Sound trucks here are usually actually cars or just light trucks that drive around both town centres and residential areas blasting out usually nothing more than the candidate’s name and maybe their age; apparently election law forbids broadcasting about policies from a moving vehicle during the 10 days of official campaigning; doing it from a stationary truck or standing on a street corner is fine, however. As useless as it sounds, all parties do it, giving people little peace during the campaign.

By the way, note that percentages with one decimal place are exact values, but with no decimal places are estimates read off graphs.

Here’s a typical sound truck – the extra hands are waving at passers-by, the “29” on the front is the age of the candidate; for younger candidates the typical poster has the age in a bigger font than the party name.

megaphone madness
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Majority don’t want election candidates to Tweet or email

Should email and Twitter be allowed during election campaigns? graph of japanese statisticsWith the election for the upper house upon us, although the government has lifted the ban on political party web pages (they used to have to blank) so the candidates are now able to update their blogs, etc, email and Twitter remains banned. To see what people think, goo Research, in conjuction with the Mainichi Shimbun, took a look at what people thought of internet-based election campaigns.


Over the 8th and 9th of June 2010 1,079 members of the goo Research online monitor group completed a private internet-based questionnaire. All were of voting age, but no further demographic breakdown was given.

Note that as usual for this kind of report, don’t knows have been eliminated, so I cannot give a sample size for each of the questions.

At least one candidate is ignoring the ban, however.
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Uncertainty and apathy in the new Japan

Regarding the outcome of the election, which do you feel more? graph of japanese statisticsUnless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month or two you surely must have heard about the Democratic Party of Japan winning the recent general election. During the run-up, I steered away from publishing polls regarding it as there are blogs out there with much better political coverage than me, and anyway since the election outcome was pretty much a foregone conclusion, I didn’t really find them that interesting.

However, now with the election out of the way, here’s a quick look by iShare at ,a href=”http://release.center.jp/2009/09/1801.html”>expectations for the new Japan. Note that iShare’s monitor demographic is I feel quite geeky, so it may be a bit fraught with danger to extrapolate these results to the general public.


Between the 31st of August (the day after the election) to the 3rd of September 2009 523 members of the CLUB BBQ free email forwarding service completed a private online questionnaire. 56.4% of the sample were male, 32.1% in their twenties, 31.9% in their thirties, and 35.9% in their forties.

For me too uncertainties outweigh expectations. Being a non-car-owner with a full time homemaker wife I fall outside the two large demographics that are going to get benefits thrown at them, and although them promising to cut wasteful public spending is of course a good move (assuming they can achieve their goal, of course) so far all I have seen is measures that put even more people out of work in a time of record unemployment, without a concrete plan for job creation.
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Fun election, wasn’t it?

Better late than never, the Asahi Shimbun conducted a telephone survey on an unspecified number of people on the 22nd and 23rd regarding attitudes to the general election a month and a half ago, and discovered that most people felt it was a media election.

First, 52% thought the election was interesting, with 39% feeling it wasn’t. Those in their twenties found it especially interesting, with over 60% of that age group expressing that opinion. Perhaps this was due to all the coverage of Horiemon?

53% thought that media coverage of the election had either a great or somewhat of an effect on the outcome. For those who voted for the LDP, 63% felt the media had had an influence on the result. This is perhaps due to the coverage of Koizumi’s female assassins.

Regarding which medium people accesses the most for information, television was first with 51%, newspapers at 40%, and the internet a mere 4%. LDP voters favoured the TV more, at 56%, whereas DPJ supporters preferred newspapers, at 48%. Women also got their information primarily from TV, at 58% versus 34% for newpapers, whereas men were at 44% for TV, 46% for newspapers. For those under 50, TV was the primary media; over 50 and it was newspapers.

As to whether the media concentrated on particular parties or constituencies, 50% held that impression, versus 41% who did not. 60% of DPJ voters held that impression, but I wonder how much of that is to do with being on the losing side? For LDP supporters, only 46% felt bias in the coverage.

Regarding when people decided who to vote for, 68% decided over a week before the election, 23% decided with less than a week to go, and 8% on the day of the vote itself.

Finally, 50% said they support the current Koizumi cabinet, and 33% do not. This is down from 55% for and 30% against in a snap survey on the 17th and 18th after Koizumi visited the neo-nationalist Yasukuni shrine; perhaps the ramifications of his visit have started to sink in?

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Election post mortem

Finally what I have been searching for, a bit late, but nonetheless, it’s the only survey I could find on the topic. DIMSDRIVE performed a public opinion poll on the two days right after the recent general election, questioning 3,598 people from all around the country in an internet-based survey. The source of the pool of respondents is not clear, however. 45.5% were male, 54.5% female, from all around the country. The Kanto area seems, however, a bit over-represented: 56.4% of panel lived there whereas the actual population is closer to 30% of the total Japanese population. This bias to urbanised areas might affect the Post Office privatisation opinions expressed later on.

Q: Did you vote in the election?


Note that the actual turnout was 67.5%, so perhaps a good number of the non-voters refused to participate in this survey too. The age and sex breakdown of voters is also interesting: 23.2% of the 20-29 year-old men didn’t vote, and 33.0% of the women of the same age didn’t. In the 40-49 years old bracket, both sexes are at just under 14%, and the 60 years old and over category has a mere 3% of non-participants in democracy.

Q: What was the most important policy issue for you?

Post office privatisation32.9%
Pensions and benefits22.7%
Political reform7.7%
Education or population shrinkage7.5%
Tax reform7.0%
Economic measures5.9%
Constitutional revision1.6%
Foreign affairs1.3%
Job creation measures0.9%
Environmental problems0.5%
Don’t know1.0%
No important policies8.1%

Regarding pensions and welfare, not too surprisingly the older the respondents got the more important it became! Some of the other issues that were listed as important were “fiscal issues”, “administration selection” (I think this means choosing the correct leaders for the country), “amakudari“, “anti-war”, “expressing tangible figures” (not sure what this one refers to), “restructuring”, etc.

Q: For those who voted, did you read any manifestos or other political promise documents? (Sample size=2,939)

Carefully read them13.1%
Skim read them36.1%
Glanced at them20.7%
Had them but never read them1.4%
Didn’t even receive one28.7%

Q: For those who didn’t vote, why didn’t you vote? (Sample size=659)

I thought I wanted to vote, but there was no candidate or party (…I could support?)31.0%
It was inconvenient, so I couldn’t go to the polling station29.9%
I think it’s just the same whoever wins22.0%
I don’t think my single vote makes any difference19.6%
No interest in politics12.9%
I didn’t know much about the candidates and parties10.6%
Too far, or I was ill, etc, so I couldn’t go to the polling station8.5%
I want to vote for policies, but not for parties7.4%
I’m not on the electoral roll0.5%
No particular reason5.0%

Some of the other reasons recorded were “because it was raining”, “I didn’t study enough to be able to vote”, “it was predicted to be an LDP walk-over anyway”, “Too much noise about Post Office privatisation”, “I couldn’t choose who to vote for”, “I’m posted far away from home”, “I forgot”, “I lost my voting card”, etc.

Q: Do you think Post Office privatisation is necessary? (Sample size=3,598)

Rather necessary28.5%
Fairly necessary36.3%
Can’t say one way or the other20.8%
Not really necessary7.9%
Not necessary at all5.9%
Difficult to say0.6%

For those who voted, the opinions on privatisation were in line with the table above, with an extra 3% viewing it as rather essential, and a corresponding 3% less sitting on the fence. However, for non-voters, these two figures were basically reversed, with only 16.7% strongly favouring it and 32.2% undecided.

Strangely, I thought, looking at the age breakdown, the older one gets the more in favour of privatisation they become. Only about 20% of the youngest age group saw it as rather necessary, yet 45% of the pensioner age group favoured it. As age increased, the rather necessary fraction steadily increased at the expense of the undecided fraction only. Given that the older one gets the more one may rely on the services of the Post Office, and given some of the (basically untrue) stories about wholescale branch closure, I find this a result worthy of further study.

Q: Did your interest in politics increase during this election period?

 All (N=3,598)Voters (N=2,939)Non-voters (N=659)
Increased rather a lot14.5%16.1%7.3%
Increased a bit33.8%34.9%28.7%
Not really changed48.4%45.7%59.9%
Decreased a bit1.6%1.7%1.1%
Decreased a lot1.9%1.6%3.0%

Looking at the age and sex breakdown, the only significant figure seems to be that over half the old ladies are now significantly more interested in politics, although it is worthy of note that there was only 37 women over 60 who took part in the survey, so these figures may be biased by the small group.

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