Young Japanese voters, happy with job market, lean towards ruling Liberal Democratic Party

Supporters of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also the ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader, wait for him at an election campaign rally in Tokyo, Japan on Oct 18, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Young Japanese will back the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in a lower house vote on Sunday (Oct 22) at a higher rate than their elders, survey data shows, apparently reflecting approval of low unemployment, not an ideological drift to the right.

Among voters aged 18 to 29, 41 per cent intend to vote for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's LDP in proportional representation districts, according to a survey by the Asahi Shimbun daily published on Thursday (Oct 19).

That compared with 27 per cent of voters in their 60s.

"For young people, the most important thing is employment. Japan is doing really well in that field, when compared with other countries," said one analyst, Naohiro Yashiro, dean of Showa Women's University's global business department.

"This is not young people turning more conservative, but wanting to keep the status quo," said Yashiro, an economist who has worked on several government panels.

After five years of the prime minister's "Abenomics" recipe of hyper-easy monetary policy and fiscal spending, Japan's jobless rate stood at a 23-year low of 2.8 per cent in August.

Among university students who graduated in March, 97.6 per cent of those who had sought employment got jobs, a record high.

Mikitaka Masuyama, professor at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, also said young voters' preferences had little to do with ideology.

"My impression is they don't care much about being left or right. They just don't have real alternatives, or other attractive parties," Masuyama said.

The poor showing of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which ruled from 2009 to 2012, haunts the opposition and helps the LDP among younger voters, said Takeshi Kohno, professor at Keio University.

"Young people are worried about Japan's future given the ageing of the population," Kohno said.

"As the DPJ did so badly before, the LDP or an LDP-led coalition can be viewed as a good choice."

The Democratic Party, faced with rock-bottom ratings, has imploded and is running no candidates of its own this time, encouraging its members to run on the slate of Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike's new conservative Party of Hope.

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