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Japan Bans Use of Web Sites in Elections 190

Posted by Zonk
from the defeats-the-point-a-bit dept.
couch_warrior writes with a BBC article about Japan's choice to restrain political speech in the 21st century. The nation of Japan bans the use of internet sites to solicit voters in its upper house elections. Based on election laws drawn up in the 50s, candidates are restricted in the ways they can reach their constituents. Candidates are even restrained from distributing leaflets that will reach more than 3% of the voters. What's more, people who are trying to change the laws are failing. Despite heavy internet usage and a strong installed base of high-speed connectivity, young people just don't feel involved in politics. "In Japan, 95% of people in their 20s surf the web, but only a third of them bother to vote. Some, though, do not seem keen on politicians using the web to try to win their support. 'I believe that internet resources are not very official,' says Kentaro Shimano, a student at Temple University in Tokyo. 'YouTube is more casual; you watch music videos or funny videos on it, but if the government or any politicians are on the web it doesn't feel right.' Haruka Konishi agrees. 'Japanese politics is something really serious,' she says. 'Young people shouldn't be involved, I guess because they're not serious enough or they don't have the education.' There cannot be many places in the world where students feel their views should not count. Perhaps it is really a reflection of the reality — that they do not."
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Japan Bans Use of Web Sites in Elections

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  • Nonsense. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    In any democracy, all people who are affected by the laws should have a say in how those laws get made. Indeed, they have a responsibility and a duty to make their voices heard.

    To paraphrase an old saw about reading, "the person who doesn't vote is no better off than the person who cannot vote!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cheater512 (783349)
      At least the Japanese excuses are better than the Americans. "I'm too lazy to vote" doesnt inspire confidence in a country.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      To paraphrase an old saw about reading, "the person who doesn't vote is no better off than the person who cannot vote!"

      Actually these days it's more like "The person who doesn't vote is no worse off than the person who does vote!"
  • by Lordpidey (942444) on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:00PM (#19855747) Homepage
    Hey, I just realized, I'm too stupid and uneducated as a person to post comments, please take this away from me.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dan East (318230)
      I thought about modding your post down, thus martyring your post by censoring it. It would prove your point in a very ironic way. But then someone else would post and say that Slashdot should add an "Ironic" moderation. If that existed then your post would be modded back up as Ironic, making it no longer ironic since your post's score would be high. An astute moderator would observe your post is without irony, and would moderate it overrated. Thus would begin a vicious circle consuming Slashdot Moderat
  • by jforest1 (966315) on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:01PM (#19855753)
    ...between Japanese and American students. American students think they know everything and people care what they have to say. Japanese students know everything--including that nobody cares.

    --josh
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Japanese university students hardly know everything. For the most part, university is the first time that they get a tiny bit of intellectual freedom from the test taking grind of junior and senior high. Most of the university students I meet in Japan are still relatively underdeveloped in terms of personality and it is not until their dreaded job search that they start to become part of society. Point in case, usually when someone becomes a full-time employee they are then referred to as "shakai-jin" or
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DDLKermit007 (911046)
        Acccctually the main problem is the main populous of Japan just doesn't care. They are FAR more apathetic to everything going on around them than any other simple minded part of the US. They generally don't care as long as something doesn't bother their microcosm of life. Even at that they'll far too often just move aside when it does. I really like the country (hell I'm still enjoying it even though were having an Fing MONSOON hitting land here), but thats something I just have never been able to get used
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. Sketch (111112)
      But when it comes to voting, American students think that their vote doesn't count, whereas Japanese students think their vote shouldn't count. Big difference, but ultimately, the same outcome: they don't vote.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I suspect Japanese kids saying they "shouldn't" vote is more of a cultural thing. I don't think the difference is actually that big insofar as why they're not voting. If kids aren't voting, no matter where they are, they just don't care enough and, if you could get them to be honest, they'd probably admit they don't *know* enough about what they're supposed to be voting for/against. That and they're probably more cynical about the whole thing than their parents.
    • by kklein (900361) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @01:58AM (#19857219)

      Um, I teach university here in Japan. I've also taught university in the states. So believe me when I say:

      These kids are dumb as rocks. Really, really dumb.

      The argument for these people being smart and this education system being good is predicated on test scores. As an educator and an assessor, I can't tell you how dumb that is. Basically (and I speak from experience in the K-12 education system here) no one does any learning in school until a few weeks before a big test, and then everyone crams FOR THE TEST. They don't actually learn anything; they just learn how to take the test. The most immediate place you can see this is by trying to talk to any Japanese college graduate in English. These people have all had about 10 years of English. They should be able to carry on a basic conversation, right? But you'll find that they can only spit out a few words, horribly mispronounced, and usually lacking any kind of syntactic structure. Why? Because they've never been expected to DO anything based on what they studied; they were only asked to pass tests. And they do. But they have zero real-world language--or any other kind of--proficiency, unless they've become involved in something in their careers.

      Companies here fill the role we in the Western world give to schools. Now, I have many CS friend who bemoan the fact that they didn't really learn how to program well until they hit the corporate world, but that's not even what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is that some of my English major students walk out of here into programming jobs--with no prior experience or education or even an interest in programming. Why? Because when they interviewed for the company (and you interview for COMPANIES here--not jobs--the company then will decide if they want you and where you should go and what you should do), they looked like the kind of person who'd make a good programmer.

      So if that's the case, what is the impetus to learn anything in school? If it has no bearing on your employability, save the name of the school, why bother actually learning about politics, history, language, ANYTHING? Answer: none. There is no reason whatsoever to learn anything, unless you just happen to be interested. So my boys are interested in drinking and getting laid (nothing wrong with either, mind you), and my girls are interested in Prada and Louis Vuitton (and I have no problem with brand goods, either--although I'm a Gaultier man myself). Very few, however, are interested in anything we'd call "important."

      Of COURSE there are exceptions. Of course. But the sick and sad thing that I see over and over is that the exceptions--the people who really did learn things and really are aware of their surroundings--do not fare any better than their benighted colleagues. They don't get better jobs. I'm sure that wherever they end up working, they do a better job, but they still get the same kind of generic jobs with the HORRIFYING starting salaries as the idiots around them.

      Japan is not a meritocracy, and it shows. They have done very well for themselves by refusing to compete domestically and by keeping foreign entities on a short leash in Japan. But the lack of sound Japanese leadership has had a lot of repercussions that it seems most people don't realize. Look into who runs Nissan. Who has controlling stakes in Mazda. Mitsubishi. Who runs Sony. Etc. These "Japanese" companies--the companies we point to to say "Japan is amazing"--haven't been run by Japanese people for a long time. The exceptions, of course, are Toyota and Honda, and they're big ones. But still.

      PLEASE stop buying the Japan hype, people. If you came over here and lived for a few months, you'd be just like every other gaijin, saying "I always thought Japan was X, but it's actually Y!" It is nothing like what you imagine. It is a silly place.

      • by treeves (963993)
        Will someone please mod parent up Informative? I've only been to Japan once for a short time, and work for a Japanese company in the US, and while this guy's take may not be the whole story, it is certainly interesting and based on real experience.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I was a keio univ student in japan (and is a japanese, 25 years old now), which i dropped off after staying for 6 years (2 years extra) by not even attending half of it.

        while you have said tad bit too much at the end of it by calling it a silly place, i totally agree how education is sad. i've seen people play games on their comp while attending class, since computer displays can't be seen from professors. and just do everything for the exams and reports to be handed out at the end of semester. and students
      • My 13-year-old daughter is spending part of the summer attending middle school in my wife's home town. She was so looking forward to this as she likes Japan itself and was excited about the different school experience.

        Now each time we talk on the phone she keeps telling me horror stories about the complete lack of discipline, direction and interest in learning in the classrooms. She feels she's back in kindergarten. She's witnessed ijime (bullying) that has gone unpunished. There's one guy in her class t
        • by kklein (900361) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @10:38AM (#19859675)

          1) Yeah, I was one of those token gaijin. If all he's doing is being the human tape recorder, though, that means he's crap. I knew people like that. If you're going to be serious about being an ALT (assistant language teacher), you at least make your own lessons. A big part of that program (I worked for the government; lately schools are turning to private companies) is about just providing entertainment for the kids in hopes that they won't notice that English class, which should be fun and empowering, is the most boring awful experience in school. I have a master's in English, requiring a lot of study of linguistics, but I did not know that there was a "rule" for when to pronounce "the" with a schwa and when to pronounce it with an [i] ("ee"). This is the kind of idiotic crap they teach in English class. If you don't follow the pronunciation pattern, people will still understand what you mean, but if you skip the article or use the wrong one, or use one when you shouldn't, they won't. The problem is, the latter only comes with meaningful communicative practice; the former can be crammed for a multiple-choice test. Ugh, don't get me started.

          2) I saw horrible, horrible things in the education system here. Heartbreaking things. I, like much of the Slashdot crowd I'm sure, endured more than my fair share of bullying in junior high and high school, and made it clear to the kids in question that nothing would be tolerated on my watch. A loud and public dressing-down of two bullies who stood up from their desks, walked over and started punching a fat kid from both sides IN THE MIDDLE OF CLASS got me a private talking-to by the principal. Telling a kid to go home after he PUSHED ME AND TOOK A SWING AT ME (on the same day that he TRIPPED AN ELDERLY FEMALE TEACHER IN THE HALL) got me a lecture on how I don't have the right to deny this piece of shit an education.

          My wife was a teacher at that school for 15 years. She once went on an exchange to a US high school. She couldn't believe how "adult" they were, and she came back horribly depressed (she quit only a couple years after).

          As a college teacher, some of the crap I deal with on a daily basis is the stuff of junior high. I have to ask for quiet. I have people carrying on full-volume conversations across the room WHILE I'M TALKING (and not at the beginning of class--right in the middle). I have people who walk into class, plop down, and GO TO SLEEP (these are classes of like 25 people--not lecture halls). I point out that they don't have to come if they don't want. They say they'll be good. "BE GOOD." IN COLLEGE. It is unbelievable. And this is at a pretty good school, and I am (I hear) one of the more interesting teachers. I hope I never find out what it's like to be one of the boring ones.

          3) Technology... I just can never figure out where this idea comes from. I'm sitting in front of a computer full of Taiwanese parts designed by American companies. I have a 50M DSL line that runs at 3M on a good day (see, those amazing numbers you read about the speeds here are the speeds AT THE POST--they have little bearing on what you'll get in your house--yay Japanese lack of consumer rights!). My phone is a Sharp (Japanese), but is almost as big as my first Motorola flip-phone in the US (ca 1998), the big difference being that there I could afford to talk on it. My bill is $70/mo, with no minutes. I can call my wife all I want, but I'm careful about using it for anything but. It's 3G, but I once read an article on MSN while waiting for the doctor and when I got my bill I found that that little web surf cost me $25.

          When I want tech, I wait until a trip to the US, where I'll have more choice for less money. I just honestly have no idea what people are talking about, "technology" in Japan. Here, more than anywhere else, it seems, technology only serves the companies that sell it. Anything that might make something useful to the user is disabled or requires a trip to Akihabara, which has become a kind of manga

        • by jrumney (197329)

          His pronunciation is, of course, with a strong Australian accent which (no offense to Aussies out there), will make them difficult to understand for other English speakers.

          Are you suggesting that only Estuary English speakers are qualified to teach ESL? Or do you have a different "standard" in mind?

    • No.

      It's a superiority complex versus an inferiority complex. Historically, they've existed in both countries for a long, long time.
  • Those damn vans. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Takichi (1053302) on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:06PM (#19855773)
    The article talks a little about the loud speaker vans candidates usually use to get their message out. I hate them! The volume they blast their cookie cutter pleads for endorsement are as deafening as they are annoying. My house is a little ways from the road that they drive by, and it sounds like they're right outside my window. If you're unlucky enough to be on the side of the road when they pass, you need to cover your ears to prevent damage to your hearing, all while they're smiling and waving in white gloves. The worst is when election day is coming, so you have three or four vans all trying to out do each other.

    Sorry, that was a bit of a rant. But it gives you an idea about what those damned trucks are like. After reading this article, it looks like things won't get any better for a while.
    • Hrm. I've never personally seen one of those, but I wonder what the legality is of responding with your own megaphone? Maybe even following them around, refuting everything they say over and over, citing examples of negative things they did, etc. Or making a parody campaign running under the platform of banning non-police megaphone use in the streets and tell everyone to vote for you instead

      • Hrm. I've never personally seen one of those, but I wonder what the legality is of responding with your own megaphone? Maybe even following them around, refuting everything they say over and over, citing examples of negative things they did, etc.

        OK, first of all, senselessly refuting everything they say and citing examples of negative things they did is not only incredibly childish, it's also considered slander and harrassment, which is illegal in many countries. Not the best way to make your point.

        As a foreigner in Japan, it's also a really good way to get arrested and lose your job. I had a friend of mine who jokingly posted a fake flyer on a designated political materials bulletin board near the train station, and he was called up in front of

      • by spooje (582773)

        If you used a megaphone it's most likely the cops would arrast you for interfering with someone else's right to free speech. At least that's what they threatened to do to me when I yelled "shut up" at them.

        Now, if you're talking about the right-winger's black vans, the police would just laugh at you as the right-wingers beat the crap out of you.

    • by _xeno_ (155264)

      The article talks a little about the loud speaker vans candidates usually use to get their message out.

      Those things are real?! I always thought they were a joke. (Honestly! I can only recall ever seeing them in old cartoons, like old Looney Toons from the 1950s. Which might explain the "throwback to the 1950s" line in the article.)

      ...

      I've tried to come up with something witty to say, but I seem to have failed. Although I suppose the loudspeaker thing is slightly less annoying than the US tradition of simply drawing up the district boundaries such that the whole voting process is basically a formality w

    • Loud, obnoxious Japanese election van [youtube.com].

      Turn your volume all the way up to get an sense of how it is to be there.
    • by jez9999 (618189)
      If you're unlucky enough to be on the side of the road when they pass, you need to cover your ears to prevent damage to your hearing, all while they're smiling and waving in white gloves.

      So do the people on the float wear ear protectors then?
  • by alvinrod (889928) on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:07PM (#19855777)
    'Young people shouldn't be involved, I guess because they're not serious enough or they don't have the education.'

    I'm not up to date on the civics education in Japan, but I feel that in America it's sorely lacking and really explains why we have such poor turnouts for our elections. I didn't have Civics (American Government, or whatever you may have had instead) until Senior year in high school, and by then it was obvious that most of the students in my class didn't care. It seemed as though most were content to sleep or slack off during the class or agonize the teacher with idiotic questions or annoying answers.

    I think if we would have had the class at a much younger age and a teacher who promoted the importance of voting and participating in government, more students would have been interested in their government and the political process, perhaps to the point that they would research candidates on their own and make informed political decisions or have intelligent political discussion beyond "Bush is a Nazi!"

    Looking back on my education as a child, I really wished that there would have been more classes like this at a younger age or just more schooling in general. I look at the other countries where children receive more schooling than here in America and wonder why this isn't something that we as a country aren't attempting to emulate.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by try_anything (880404)
      I think the quote was referring to education that would enable one to vote intelligently, rather than education that would motivate one to vote. I had plenty of the second kind in elementary school. That could be why I was an idealistic little kid and still am*.

      Still, despite the civics classes I had in elementary school and high school, I have a hard time feeling educated when I vote. I try to read every article about local politics I see, but it's like they're written in code. I know what all the wo

      • by jez9999 (618189)
        * (I'm a typical American liberal who thinks the United States has the best political system in the world but hates American complacency and keeps obsessive mental lists of things we could do better and foreign examples we could learn from.)

        Please explain to me how the electoral college, legalizes bribery, and first-past-the-post electing could possibly be considered the best political system in the world.
    • "I didn't have Civics (American Government, or whatever you may have had instead) until Senior year in high school, and by then it was obvious that most of the students in my class didn't care. "

      And why should they? I've been educated both in France and in the US, and in the United States I was taught fairy tale stories about American civics and American history. That's another problem with your civics education (assuming you received the same one I did), if all your past Presidents in your history books a
  • good rule (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jeek Elemental (976426) on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:14PM (#19855811)
    Im not sure what the implications of this are in Japan, if it ensures all parties get the same air time Id say its good.
    If used by the ruling parties to stifle others, ofcourse not so good.
    A totally open system will only favour the party with most money/biggest corporate backers.

    Where I live political ads on tv are illegal, and I think most agree its for the best. Anyone wanting to sling mud on another candidate has to do so face to face in a debate, and be ready to back it up or be called on it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)
      I've long thought that all forms of election advertising should be illegal and "reaching the voters" should be done exclusively through debates where everyone gets equal air time. You shouldn't have to be able to afford TV commercials to run in an election.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I wouldn't advocate going that far. Media such as web sites and email, which are within the reach of practically everyone, should still be permitted.

        In the UK, paid TV and radio advertisements are banned, but you can still campaign via posters, leaflets and print advertisements.

        The main problem with excessive restrictions is that you hand a substantial advantage to the incumbents, who will usually get substantial media coverage due to their position.

        I suspect that has a lot to do with the Japanese system. A
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)
          There are drawbacks with both systems. I think election signs are the worst. They have no information whatsoever about the candidate or the issues. Leaflets aren't far behind, along with all the radio, TV and print ads. I've heard too many people say they were going to vote for the candidate with the last sign they saw before walking into the polling booth.

          I'm not sure the incumbent would benefit from getting more media coverage... the challengers might just as easily benefit.

          Web sites might be okay...
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by vtcodger (957785)
      The article title "Japan Bans Use of Web Sites in Elections" is unusually inaccurate even for Slashdot. If one actually reads the article, they find that what is banned isn't having a web site. It is changing the content or putting up a new site in the final few weeks before an election.

      If I recall correctly, this isn't even a new policy. I think Japan does it for every election.

      Japan has no shortage of cultural excesses. (e.g. the sound trucks). They probably are addressing some real, and hopefull

  • As a voter (not in Japan, but in another country), I found the easiest methof to find out who I was voting for is the Internet - a quick way to determine the platform of each political candidate. Some of the candidates don't have a website, but a quick search on other information didn't pull up anything - which usually indicates a minor candidate.

    In my opinion, restricting the use of websites would make research more difficult - if everyone was serious about voting (which isn't the case) where they would c
    • by pjt33 (739471)
      I'm reminded of my experience in the last European elections here in the UK. I wanted the official word on where the parties and candidates stood on software patents, so I checked their websites. They all had websites which listed some of their policies, but nothing so specific. So I wrote to their campaign offices. Only one party replied, and they didn't really answer the question, although they did send lots of stickers, presumably so that when I was convinced by the "reply" I could canvas on their behalf
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 13, 2007 @09:21PM (#19855849)
    The title makes more sense when you remember that the Japanese mix up their l's and r's.
    • by Jerf (17166)
      An interesting theory... [google google google]... but apparently a false one.
    • Can you seriously not hear the difference between a Chinese, Japanese, or Korean accent? As long as there's not much crossover (ie. a native Japanese speaker who learned English from Chinese instructors), the difference between them is night-and-day.

      If you can't be bothered to learn the difference between several very distinct cultures, you have absolutely no right to comment on global issues.

      Sort of like how the media occasionally manages to mistake Buddhists for Islamic Militants....
  • Election Day (Score:3, Informative)

    by shalmaneser1 (916406) on Friday July 13, 2007 @10:15PM (#19856103)

    I recently saw a documentary called "Election Day" about a Japanese man running for office. While noting that Japanese documentaries stylistically are very different than modern American documentaries: what happens, boring or not is what you see; it's still incredibly interesting.

    There seem to be no television ads, no yard signs with slogans, no big campaign rallies. Instead there's the use of existing events: politicians visiting school exhibitions, attending morning exercise programs for the elderly, and so on.

    There's also a lot of the politician himself walking around town, introducing himself to people on the street, and standing around with a bullhorn at various popular locations ( ex. the train station ) apologising for the intrusion and explaining his views on things to anyone who will listen ( no one ever seems to stop and listen for very long ).

    In what seems to be the culmination of the campaign there's even a bizarre bus tour around the small town while he and his wife shout things over a pa and wave politely from the bus.

    In contrast with American politics -- it's strange to say the least.

    All in all though it was refreshing to see a politician taking cat naps in his ultra tiny car and pounding the pavement all by himself to connect with everyday people and to drum up votes.

    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Sounds like what the representatives do in the U.S., state and congress. They go door to door where I live (Northern, VA).
  • by achurch (201270) on Friday July 13, 2007 @10:43PM (#19856223) Homepage

    It's not that Japan "just banned" the use of web sites; it's that the law as written doesn't allow it, and hasn't been changed (in relevant part) since the web came about. Or rather, it's that the law is believed not to allow web sites; a few candidates that tried it got a warning that it "might" break the law, and none of them were willing to actually take it to the courts. (Interestingly enough, in this election the political parties have started posting their non-candidate members' speeches, arguing that they're allowed as descriptions of party activities rather than restricted candidate activities. We'll have to see how that holds up.)

    Incidentally, a similar problem with videos of campaign speeches was discussed here in April [slashdot.org].

  • by BillGatesLoveChild (1046184) on Friday July 13, 2007 @10:55PM (#19856275) Journal
    I've been in Japan at election time. There's a distinct lack of information to go off:

    * You'll find each neighborhood plastered with election posters from 30 or so candidates. These show the candidate grinning or looking stern, their name and a 'Vote for Tanaka'.

    * Election Vans drive around the neighborhood saying 'I am Tanaka. I am Tanaka. Please Vote for me. I am Tanaka. I am Tanaka. Please Vote for me. I am Tanaka. I am Tanaka. Please Vote for me.' These annoy the crap out of everyone.

    * That's all folks! Try making your choice off of that!

    * Websites would have given a place for some intelligent debate, because you get nothing from the above. If you watch NHK's News Hour you will get some reasonably intelligent analysis, but for local issues you have to rely on the local stations and they do next to no politics. If your household watches the variety show or the kids want to watch anime channels instead, you'll get no information at all.

    * There's only one real party: The LDP. Sure, there are fringe parties, but apart from one glitch (quickly) corrected the LDP have always held power. (Don't get too cocky: In the US the Republicans and Democrats are pretty similar. Last Election both Pro-War and Pro-Big Business.)

    * Most Japanese don't talk politics. They've realized it doesn't make a difference. They try and carve out a living and hope the politicians leave them alone (Again don't get cocky. The hours you spend sitting around shooting the breeze with your buddies might feel good, but ultimately makes no difference either.)

    * There's a big disaster looming in Japan because the pension system has been paying out more than is coming in. This has been known for 20 years, but no one has had the guts to do anything about it. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's plan to Save Japan? He's going to make sure children know how to use chopsticks. Other than that, he's done nothing. How did Abe get elected? He didn't. The LDP appointed him. His Grandpa was an important politician and now it's "his turn".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Wow, Japan sounds like a less annoying version of the United States, right down to the failing national pension system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      You're quite right. I live in Japan at the moment, and as far as I can tell, Japan is barely a democracy. There's one party that always gets elected and decides everything, and the average person neither cares nor talks about politics. That doesn't mean people don't have a sense of civic duty; au contraire, they're very active in the nighbourhood and in their kids' schools.

      Japan's culture is different, and I suspect it's the possibility of public shame and humiliation that restrains corruption -- the minist
      • > You're quite right. I live in Japan at the moment, and as far as I can tell, Japan is barely a democracy. There's one party that always gets elected and decides everything, and the average person neither cares nor talks about politics.

        In much of the West, there are two parties which between then always get elected and decide everything. We act like we have a choice, but I'm not so sure. Millions of people in the US, the UK and Australia marched against the war, and our leaders took us to war anyway. No
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bueller_007 (535588)
      1) There is constant political and election coverage of election on the web (try Yahoo, etc. which have whole sites dedicated to election info.) Only political candidates are banned from updating their web pages. There is not suddenly a blanket thrown over the entire Japanese internet media.

      2) There is constant political and election coverage in newspapers. How did you forget about those? As I recall, Japan has the highest newspaper readership in the world.

      3) There is a lot of political and election cove
      • > There is constant political and election coverage of election on the web (try Yahoo, etc. which have whole sites dedicated to election info.) Only political candidates are banned from updating their web pages. There is not suddenly a blanket thrown over the entire Japanese internet media.

        I doubt news sites will be writing opinion pieces on the views of every candidate standing. A lot will remain unheard. It would be best if they could write it themselves, and the web would have been a good way for cand
        • It would be fair to say Koizumi, despite his foibles, *was* elected and at the time, he espoused a vision that got people excited. He stepped down, not because he wanted to go, but because of a power sharing arrangement that said he had to give Shinzo Abe a go. Ah Shinzo... I don't even think his mama is excited about him.

          Seems like the same thing that just happened with Gordon Brown in the UK. It's just the way the parliamentary system works. You elect a party, not a person. They may run with one guy as the leader during the election, but there's no real guarantee that he's gonna stick around.

        • by Teancum (67324)

          You're splitting hairs: Remember in the US people vote for an electoral college who in turn choose the President. Is that to say the President isn't elected either? Now in a Parliamentary Democracy, you vote for your local representative who is a member of the political party who in turn votes for someone from that political party to head it. Different names, but same animal.

          I think you miss what the electoral college is and why many in the USA continue to support the electoral college in the first place.

          Mo

  • You know, these things are not 'serious' or 'educated' enough to invade our holy elections, we cannot let it to get into the voters attention... they could listen to it. What's worse is that we have absolutely no control over it, some guy in his basement could make a video and submit it to youtube, at least with the other ways (the expensive ways) there's more control regarding who is able to spread political speech...

    Once the politicians begin to "protect" the citizens from certain kind of speeches or m

  • Yeah, so? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 (410832) on Saturday July 14, 2007 @08:20AM (#19858937)
    "In Japan, 95% of people in their 20s surf the web, but only a third of them bother to vote."

    Here in the United States, we get all the fliers and websites and spam and junk mail and road signs and everything else you could want, and we still get a similar result.

    It doesn't matter how you "reach out to the voters" if the voters still don't like you.
  • Namely, when millions of people elect somebody whom they never met personally.

    More logical democratic system is when someone elect community leader, those leaders elect township leader, township leaders elect county leader, county leaders elect state leader and state leaders elect the president of usa.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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