Petition for online overseas voting signed by 26,000 sent to Japan

An online petition with about 26,000 signatures was sent to Japan's foreign minister on Monday, demanding that Japanese nationals living overseas be allowed to vote in national elections via the internet.
Italy-based Asuka Tagami, who launched the petition with two other Japanese nationals in November, told Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi through a video teleconferencing app that the current mail-in voting system is becoming more inconvenient due to postal delays amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"It will be tough physically and financially for us to continue to cast a ballot in this way in the years to come," said Tagami, who gave up on mail-in voting and had to spend eight hours traveling to and from a Japanese diplomatic mission to vote in the House of Representatives election last October.
"We need to constantly review given the changing times," Hayashi said after receiving the petition, adding that the government will take measures to improve the situation.
Currently, a Japanese national living overseas needs to register with the relevant authorities as an eligible voter. Qualified voters can then cast a ballot by traveling to a nearby consulate or embassy, sending it via postal mail to Japan or returning to Japan.
Hayashi pointed to challenges such as preventing double voting and ensuring ballot secrecy and information security, and that the internal affairs ministry is studying how to deal with them.
According to the ministry, of the 105.32 million eligible voters, 96,466 people were living abroad when the October general election was held, and around 20 percent of the registered voters overseas cast a ballot.

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