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Active debate needed to raise low turnout rate in local elections

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Official campaigning has kicked off for Japan’s quadrennial unified local elections.

The official campaign period started March 21 for gubernatorial elections in 11 prefectures, which will be held April 7. Ballots will also be cast on the same day to elect assembly members in 41 prefectures, mayors in six ordinance-designated major cities and assembly members in 17 ordinance-designated cities.

Mayoral and assembly elections will be held April 21 in other municipalities.

Nearly 1,000 elections will take place across Japan during the month to come.

Different communities are facing a broad variety of problems, including depopulation, an aging population, a labor shortage, an increase in abandoned farmland and unoccupied houses, and aging public facilities.

The upcoming elections provide a golden opportunity for residents to think for themselves about, and present their choices on, how a breakthrough can be achieved.

Voter turnout rates, however, have remained low.

They averaged only 47.14 percent in governor’s races four years ago, falling for the first time below the 50-percent mark. The........

© The Asahi Shimbun