Friday 9 March 2007

Students come to Nagata-Cho

Politicians in any country can very easily lose touch with the people they claim to represent. As lawmakers try to keep one step ahead of hectic schedules brimming with local campaigns, media interviews and national debates, many forget or neglect their grassroots. If Members of the House of Representatives are to really represent the electorate, exchange--on as many levels and with as many groups as possible--is essential.

Back in his Aichi constituency, Motohisa Furukawa, a member of the Democratic Party of Japan, holds regular brainstorming sessions with a wide variety of groups, including women's associations and groups from local universities. But, rather than the normal sleepy nod and token speech that most politicians whip out on such occasions, Mr. Furukawa always seems genuinely enthused.

On Wednesday 7th, a group of bright 1st and 2nd Year students from Tokyo University's AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales) paid Mr. Furukawa a visit in his Tokyo office. What was supposed to be a quick Q&A session quickly developed into a lively 2-hour debate, including a high-speed tour of the Diet.

You seldom see anyone wandering through the Diet corridors younger than wizened 75 year-old company executives (save, of course, for the seemingly compulsory days-out for elementary school students). If Japanese politicians want to inspire future generations of politicians, greater interaction with young people would be a good place to start.

R J F Villar

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