Despite press freedom and an open political debate, many young Japanese people feel that they have no power to influence society. Therefore, the Swedish Embassy invited some 30 Japanese university students to enjoy buns and coffee (Swedish ‘fika’) to initiate a discussion on engagement in society and democracy.
The Embassy in Tokyo organised the event and worked together with other actors, including the Japan Institute of Scandinavian Studies. The agenda included talks with writers and journalists and a seminar followed by a lively question-and-answer session. The possibility of discussing the political situation in Japan was appreciated by the students, who feel that there is otherwise a lack of political debate with friends and family. Critical and independent thinking is not something that is taught in school or encouraged in society either.
The event garnered attention from Japanese media, and there was a great deal of interest among participants. The positive response from the participants is testament to a pent-up need for similar initiatives for young people in Japan. Hopefully the democracy fika can encourage continued debate and engagement among the Japanese population.