"If people don't want to come out to the ballpark, how are you going to stop them?"A startlingly high fraction of this blessed land's prefectural, local assembly and mayoral seats go uncontested. In the last Unified Local Elections cycle in 2011 about 40% of electable positions were awarded without a vote, a figure raising serious questions about just how democratic Japan's democratic system of governance is.
- Yogi Berra
On Friday, the candidate lists for the 12 April 2015 prefectural assembly elections came out. The Bad News is that the previously low level of competition in the prefectural assembly races has for the most part deteriorated. A record 21.9% of the seats will be awarded without an election, the highest level of non-election since the establishment of the current local administration system in 1947. In 321 electoral districts – ONE THIRD -- of the 960 total electoral districts (some districts award more than one seat) -- there will be no voting. In Kagawa Prefecture, 27 of 41 seats -- 65.8% -- will be awarded without contest. In 25 of the 41 prefectures holding elections the number of seats going uncontested is worse than in 2011, which was an election held in the immediate aftermath of the Great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, a time when the eastern half of the country was still experiencing acute shortages in basic goods and services and the national mood was somber and subdued.
The Good News is that:
1) Shimane Prefecture, which had an absurd 70.3% of its seats filled without elections in 2011, will only have 13.5% of its seats filled without a contest this time
3) in Yamaguchi and Osaka there are to be elections for every seat – whereas in 2011 no prefecture had zero uncontested seats.
(apologies for the split image)