Undaunted by initial setback

NPO Bokuichi pushes “voter nurturing”



A Chuo University student, casually clad in a T-shirt and shorts, lightly replied to questions in an interview with Hakumon Herald. He is Hirokatsu Goto, a fourth grader of the Faculty of Economics. A native of Niigata Prefecture, he was a member of his high school’s rowing club which once qualified to compete in the national championship. He is now enthusiastic about politics. His dream of becoming a politician has brought him to Tokyo. Goto currently serves as president of NPO “Bokurano Ippo ga Nihon wo Kaeru” (Bokuichi for short which literally means “our initial step can change Japan”). It offers voter education lectures targeted at young Japanese people. Hakumon Herald asked him about how he took part in the organization, with particular emphasis on its core “Hyoiku” (voter nurturing) activity.



Faced with sudden challenge



Bokuichi was founded in 2012 by six high-school students and Goto joined it in 2013. He had been trying to find an organization where he can pursue his dream of becoming a politician when a Chuo University professor introduced him to the then president of Bokuichi. Looking back at those days, Goto said, “Our organization was enjoying smooth sailing as the media played up a number of events we had successfully carried out.”




In 2014, however, Bokuich and Goto came across a major turning point. One member of the group, disguising himself as a fourth grader of an elementary school, set up a website casting doubt over the decision taken by the Liberal Democratic Party, in particular Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to dissolve the House of Representatives to call for a general election. The act of sending messages in false identity drew harsh public criticisms. The member resigned by taking responsibility for tarnishing the organization’s reputation. Goto was appointed interim president of Bokuichi. “Our reputation fell to rock bottom. Our supporters left us one after another,” he said in retrospect. “It was the hardest days in my life. I felt all of my efforts had been denied. I thought of giving up my dream to become a politician.”



However, Goto managed to hold on. While asking himself, “Isn’t a single mistake excusable in the world of politics?” he told himself, “Despite our wrongdoing, it should be our responsibility to prove by action that even younger people like us can change society.” He spent the next eight months making a round of visits to all individual and corporate supporters to offer an apology. At the same time, he redefined the principles of his organization’s activities. Its prime aim was upgraded from providing the youth with chances to get associated with politics to changing society through their closer cooperation. The association launched Hyoiku as its core activity.