Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Voters Unimpressed by Internet Campaign

Newspaper article The Daily Yomiuri (Toyko, Japan)

Voters Unimpressed by Internet Campaign

Article excerpt

About 90 percent of voters did not use information or messages posted online by candidates or political parties when they decided whom to vote for in the House of Councillors election last Sunday, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

It was the first election held since the ban on using the Internet in campaigns was lifted. Use of the Internet was expected to help young people take more interest in elections, but voter turnout dropped by about five percentage points from the 2001 upper house election to 52.61 percent. It was the third-lowest turnout in postwar history.

The survey was conducted Monday and Tuesday on a random nationwide sample of 1,843 households containing eligible voters. A total of 983 people, or 53 percent, gave valid responses.

According to the survey, 90 percent said they did not use online information about parties and candidates when deciding whom to vote for. Only 8 percent said they did use such resources.

People who did use the Internet were asked what they looked at, with 56 percent of respondents saying they visited the websites and blogs of candidates and parties, 28 percent saying Facebook and 21 percent saying Twitter and video-sharing sites. Multiple answers were allowed.

Attempt ended in failure

The number of people who referred to information online was much smaller than expected.

Much of the information posted on the Internet about candidates and parties comprised announcements of and reports about their street speeches. There were also many postings about things like what the candidates ate for lunch, apparently put up in an attempt to create a sense of intimacy with voters.

Voters who wanted to know about the substance of their policies, however, complained about such trivial postings.

"I looked online because I wanted to know more details about their reconstruction policies, but the parties didn't give enough information," said Hiroaki Miura, 54. Miura lived through the Great East Japan Earthquake in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, and is now living in a temporary housing unit.

Meanwhile, relatively few of those who used information from the Internet checked Twitter or Facebook, which contained very fragmented information. …

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