One of the results of the drastic review process of the Government Revitalization Unit (GRU) this year and last was a 20% reduction in the budget allocation used to promote voting and increase voter participation rates, which are currently stuck at around 54%-to-58% of the electorate. As a consequence, local authorities are looking for innovative ways to promote voting at at dramatically lower costs than before. The movement even has its own name, the "cheap-cheap strategy" (kechi kechi sakusen).
In some areas, local authorities are pairing up with retailers, promoting the election with stickers on food packages, or posters on the front doors reminding customers that Sunday, July 11 is the day of the vote for the House of Councillors.
It was thus with tremendous interest that I today received, together with my groceries at Peacock -- the supermarket division of the Daimaru retailing empire -- a flyer with a most intriguing offer printed on its lower extremity.
Here is an image of the flyer in its entirety, most of which is covered with announcements of special prices on a variety of goods going on sale on July 10 or July 11.
Here below, however, is the image of the lower extremity of the flyer, whereupon is printed the invitation, in diagonal white writing, "On your way back home from voting, please by all means come to Peacock!"
According to the offer -- and it is an offer -- if you present proof of having voted, you will receive a 5% discount on your final total* at the register.
I cannot for the life of me understand how this offer, which gives an actual financial reward for a person's having voted, manages to skirt Japan's Byzantine voting laws. Yet is somehow must, or at least will be assumed to do so until we see the prosecutors on Monday marching, cardboard boxes in hand, into Daimaru's headquarters.
* Certain products are not included in this offer, including cigarettes, salt, digital photo printing, gift coupons and dry cleaning.