Voting overseas

As my previous post, Japan's parliament election is officially in progress right now, with the general voting date on August 30.

The law to make it possible to vote overseas passed some years ago, but due to technical difficulties, only "proportional representation" was made possible since 2000, and finally we can also vote for "small election district" since 2007.  It was applied to the upper house election last year, and for more important lower house, this is the first time.

So I went to Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco today to cast a ballot.  You can do it through Saturday this week in person, or you can send in the ballot via mail.  For mailing method, you first have to send your overseas voter certificate to your election district and get the ballot before the election begins, so it takes a long time and I decided to do it in person this time.  It also is a bit of nice feeling to actually go and vote with many other people in the same place.

It is interesting that the consulate's PR about the election says "you should collect information about your district's candidates through press or internet".  In strict Japanese culture, it would not have been allowed to let such "loose" definition go.  In fact, in debate during the law making, the opposition argued that "some people do not have internet access and it would be unfair treatment for these people."

So those were the days.  Now there are several database covering statistics about elected officials in Japan, and you can see the party leaders' speech on YouTube.  Technology opens the door for wider range of people to participate, in many ways.  At least, it is my belief.