Photo/IllutrationJ.A.G Japan Corp.’s data on voters in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward provided to its client candidates. The number of household members, votes cast in local elections and other data are shown. Part of the image is modified for privacy. (Provided by J.A.G. Japan Corp.)

  • Photo/Illustraion

When clients of an election consulting service provider prepare to hit the campaign trail, they are advised on tailoring their messages to cater to voters in the specified areas.

“You should underline ‘pay raise’ in front of a train station in this area in the morning as most of the residents there are salaried workers who are commuting to work,” J.A.G. Japan Corp., based in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, advises one candidate.

In another prompt, the firm urges the candidate to “raise the issue of the national pension program in front of a supermarket in the evening as this area has a large population of low-income households, and many such people buy from a reduced price section in the evening.”

Election consulting firms are helping candidates running in the Upper House election on July 21 to fine-tune their speeches by providing data on the perceived needs of voters in their specific community.

Several candidates in the Upper House poll have contracted with J.A.G. Japan, which began offering such services in 2014.

The firm produces a special map that shows the typical family structure, types of employment, daytime population, the ratio of owned houses and an estimated average household income by each area based on data from the national census and other sources.

Drawing on the dedicated map, the firm compiles a speech from 150 to 200 words incorporating a client candidate’s beliefs and their party’s campaign platform by formulating a model voter for a target community and train station.

Candidates stumping about constantly receive a “speech” suitable to the time and location they were at out of dozens of possible speeches on a range of topics, including child care, agriculture and pay hikes, on their smartphone from J.A.G. Japan if their global positioning system is working.

“That way, candidates will not waste even a minute when they address voters,” said Takuma Ohamazaki, president of the firm.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has already introduced an approach to advise candidates on a real-time basis for the Upper House election in 2013.

Under this approach, party candidates were all provided a tablet computer to stay informed about the hottest news and topics trending on Twitter.

For example, the LDP’s project team advised the candidates to respond strongly when the Internet was abuzz with news on opposition parties blasting the “three policy arrows” of Abe’s economic policy as “poison-tipped arrows.”

“Candidates were grateful as they could obtain necessary information and figures on the spot,” said Hidehiko Koguchi, president of Perspective Media Inc. in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, who was involved in the LDP’s media strategy at that time.

Koguchi, 57, noted that it became possible for candidates to tailor their campaign activities to a specific group of voters due to the spread of smartphones capable of compiling a large database of information.

But he warned against possible adverse effects of expanding this method.

“It may allow politicians to wake up to the needs of voters in particular neighborhoods, but it may also allow them to imprint certain information in their minds as well,” he said.

(This article was written by Kayoko Sekiguchi and Nobuo Fujiwara.)