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Rain, typhoon drive fears of lower voter turnout in election

The forecasted path of Typhoon Lan is shown as of 9 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2017, Japan time. (Image from the Japan Meteorological Agency website)

The continual rain falling over Japan and the expected arrival of a typhoon are having a negative effect on the Oct. 22 general election -- driving fears that they will cause lowered voter turnout on Sunday.

The typhoon, known as Typhoon Lan, is currently approaching the country. The typhoon and a rain front will probably result in rain falling across a wide part of Japan on election day, from north to west Japan.

As a result, fears have emerged that voters will be put off by the adverse weather and that some will stay away from voting booths. As a countermeasure, regions that are likely to be affected by the typhoon have started to encourage people to vote early, and remote islands are considering bringing the voting day forward.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the amount of rainfall during the eight-day period since Oct. 10 -- when official campaigning for the election kicked off -- has been 3.86 times higher than an average year in northern Kyushu, 2.5 times greater in Okinawa, and 1.92 times higher in Kanto-Koshin. In addition, the number of sunlight hours across the entire country has been 44 to 88 percent of that in an average year.

Typhoon Lan, this year's 21st, is expected to hit the southern part of the Japanese archipelago on Oct. 22. This year, the high pressure overhang is stronger than in an average year, and Typhoon Lan is expected to move along its periphery toward Japan. Once the typhoon becomes closer, warm and humid air will flow in along the stationary front -- probably resulting in heavy rain across a wide area.

From Oct. 17 onward, the Okinawa Prefecture Electoral Administration Commission has been encouraging voters via its homepage to vote early.

Under the Public Offices Election Act, if people are unable to vote on election day due to disasters or similar events, postponement of the election day (deferral) or bringing the day forward are both possible.

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