Japanese Elections

It’s an interesting time for politics in Japan at the moment. In the run up to the elections, there have been some good, detailed articles in the world news, too. This one on the BBC News website caught my eye over the weekend because it contains some interesting words and expressions.

The first word I noticed was in the title:

Japan votes in landmark election

When we talk about a ‘landmark‘ we usually mean a famous place or building that is is easily recognised however, in the example above, it means an important event. When we use the word ‘landmark‘ to talk about important events, we usually mean that the event will cause some kind of big change.

Another word seen a few times in this article is ‘poll‘. Here are some of the different ways it is used:

  • opinion poll – a survey used to find out what people think about a particular subject.
  • media poll – an opinion poll organised by a media company.
  • exit poll – a survey based on asking people who they voted as they leave the place where they have voted.
  • polls – places to vote.

The next interesting piece of vocabulary is in the third paragraph where it is mentioned that ‘turnout‘ is expected to be high. In this situation, ‘turnout‘ is the number of people who vote. We can also use it as a phrasal verb and say ‘lots of people turned out to vote’.

There’s another interesting word a little later on in the article where the author talks about the current ‘economic malaise‘. ‘Malaise‘ usually means to be ill or or generally in poor health so ‘economic malaise‘ means that the economy is not strong or not doing particularly well.

Further on in the article, the phrase ‘status quo‘ is mentioned. As well as being the name of a group of ageing rockers, it means the current situation or existing state of affairs. It’s a phrase more often used in political commentary than in everyday life.

Near the end of the article, Mr Aso is quoted talking to a ‘rally‘ outside Tokyo. In this situation, a ‘rally‘ is a large meeting of people either supporting a politician or protesting against something.

There’s another interesting phrasal verb in the last paragraph where Takashi Mikuriya is quoted as saying:

Most voters are making the decision not about policies but about whether they are fed up with the ruling party,

To be ‘fed up‘ means to be annoyed, upset or irritated by something. It’s a really common phrasal verb used often by native English speakers all over the world.