Teenagers to vote in Japan for the first time

This time 18 and 19-year-olds are eligible to vote in Japan’s critical elections to be held on Sunday. Polls show Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might return to power with a comfortable majority.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appears poised to secure a fresh term at the helm of the world’s third-biggest economy on Sunday.

In Japan, older voters tend to decide election outcomes.

They make up an enormous slice of the population, tend to be more conservative and are far more politically active than the younger, apathetic electorate.

Ready for the polls

Candidates in Japan made a last-ditch plea to voters Saturday on the last day of campaigning before an election expected to return Abe to power with a comfortable majority.

Polls show Abe and his conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are clear favourites to win Sunday’s election, handing him a fresh mandate for his hardline stance on North Korea and “Abenomics” growth strategy.

Abe’s coalition is on track to win around 300 seats in the 465-seat lower house of parliament, according to a projection published by the Nikkei daily.

If the polls are correct, the 63-year-old Abe would be on course to be the longest-serving premier in post-war Japan, the world’s third-biggest economy and key US ally in Asia.

The two main opposition parties — the “Party of Hope” created by the media-savvy Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and the new centre-left Constitutional Democratic Party — are seen winning around 50 seats each.

Abe shocked Japan this month by calling the election more than a year earlier than expected, citing twin “national crises” of an ageing population and hostility from North Korea.

The regime in Pyongyang has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and fired two missiles over its northern island of Hokkaido in the space of a month.

Abe has stuck to a hawkish stance on North Korea, stressing that maximum pressure should be exerted on the regime and backing the US line that “all options” are on the table.

Throughout the short 12-day campaign, the premier has railed against Pyongyang, telling a crowd recently: “At a time like this… we cannot waver. Everyone, we must not yield to the threat of North Korea!”

Another brand-new party, the centre-left Constitutional Democrats, appears to have some momentum going into the poll and could do better than expected.

One less predictable factor in the election is the weather as a typhoon barrels towards Japan, expected to dump heavy rains on most of the country on polling day.

This could weigh on turnout, with a lower participation rate seen as beneficial for Abe, whose supporters are more committed.

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