Last Sunday’s Lower House elections had a record post-war low as only 59.32 percent for single-seat constituencies and 59.31 percent for the proportional representation segment showed up at the polls. According to figures by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, both figures showed a 9.6 percent drop from the previous election in 2009.
The number of early voters was also down for this year, with just 12,039,570 voters, down 13.91 percent from 2009. The election back in 1996 was the previous record low with a 59.65 percent for single seats and 59.62 percent in proportional representation. The election saw then Socialist Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama replaced by Ryutaro Hashimoto of the Liberal Democratic Party.
The low turnout might be a reflection of the public’s growing frustrations with the government. This election saw Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda resign from office after his Democratic Party of Japan won only 57 seats in the lower house. Voter dissatisfaction was rampant after Noda and the DPJ failed to deliver on their promises, and their failure to ease the country’s current economic downturn has not helped.
The surge in voters turnout was last experienced in 2005 and 2009, which saw voter turnout reaching the upper 60% range. 2005’s issue was postal privatisation while 2009 saw the ouster of the Liberal Democratic Party by the DPJ. Previously, the LDP had over half a century of nearly unbroken rule. Sunday’s election saw them back in power, winning 294 out of the 480 seat lower house.