In a bid to help boost voter turnout in Sunday's upper house election, some companies in Japan have launched various campaigns to get patrons -- especially young voters -- to the polls, such as offering free refills of ramen noodles or discounts for movie tickets to those who have voted.
World-famous ramen chain Ippudo, for example, is offering a refill of noodles or a boiled egg topping for free to patrons who show proof they have cast ballots, such as certificates issued at polling stations. The campaign runs from Sunday through the end of July at 93 Ippudo shops nationwide.
Ippudo's operator Chikaranomoto Holdings Ltd., headquartered in Fukuoka, said this is the third time it has implemented such offers, after launching the initial campaign during the 2016 House of Councillors' election.
Similarly, Tapista, a bubble tea chain especially popular among young people, is selling all items on its menu at half price on Sunday to anyone who has voted.
⭐️選挙に行ったらタピスタ半額キャンペーン⭐️— Tapista❁公式 (@Tapista_JP) July 17, 2019
"The weight of each tapioca pearl, and the weight of that one vote you hold, both are important tools to change the future," it said in a tweet.
At the Uplink Shibuya and Uplink Kichijoji cinemas in Tokyo, moviegoers purchasing tickets with a "youth discount" for those aged 16-22 will receive a free complimentary ticket for their next visit by showing proof having voted.
7月21日（日）の参院選当日に、ユース（22歳以下）料金で映画をご覧になる方で、投票を証明するもの（投票済証明書など）を受付でご提示いただいた方に、次回、アップリンク渋谷またはアップリンク吉祥寺で映画を無料でご鑑賞いただける招待券をプレゼントいたします。 pic.twitter.com/E7fV7UAzdn— 浅井隆 ASAI Takashi (@asaitakashi) July 19, 2019
Hiruneko Books, a shop in Tokyo that sells mainly secondhand books, launched the "Vote! & Read!" campaign in mid-July, in which patrons who have voted can pick a secondhand book from a discount shelf for free. The idea was soon picked up by other bookstores across the country.
Meanwhile, outdoor apparel maker Patagonia Inc.'s Japan branch closed all of its 22 directly managed retail stores nationwide on election day to enable its employees to vote.
Under the slogan "Vote our planet," the company, known for its environmental and social agendas, also organized "Local Election Cafes" at its stores earlier this month to facilitate open discussions in the run up to the poll.
At the previous upper house election in 2016, voter turnout was 54.70 percent. Low turnout is also expected in Sunday's poll, particularly among disenchanted or disengaged young people.