A 19-year old student from Keio University in Japan thought of an innovative solution to bridge the gap between politicians and citizens in terms of communication. Kazuma Ito, the mind behind the idea, built the application PoliPoli which utilizes innovative technologies to aid communication and connection of said target users.
Kasuma Ito, CEO of PoliPoli Inc., stated that voters do not really get the chance to interact with politicians except during election season. This concern still had not been resolved despite legalizing online political campaign and even having voting age lowered to 18 years old instead of 20, back in 2016.
Kazuma Ito said in a recent interview with the Japan Times,
“Seiji (politics) may seem very square, yet that’s not the actual case.”
The application intends to create an open communication for the citizens to be able to address each of their concerns to the authorities on issues such as narrow roads improvement or solutions for child abuse, etc., Ito stated.
When asked why he decided to launch his startup in February, he said,
“I don’t necessarily care about the day-to-day political currents, but the system of politics must be changed. Business is all about solving social issues.”
Ito’s first voting encounter was last October in the Lower House election. Together with his first year high school friend at Keio University, they introduced the prototype of PoliPoli to be utilized for the following month in a mayoral election in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture.
The application was downloaded by approximately 1000 users, in which it was able to display the profiles and political platforms of the candidates, all of whom were new and ran as independents, Ito recalled. It also featured bulletin boards where voters can throw questions to the candidates directly.
PoliPoli comes with the appealing tagline, “We entertain politics,” which caught the attention of both political and investment facets. In fact, Former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba who is in competition with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in the Liberal Democratic Party for Presidential election on September, alongside Yuichiro Tamaki who is the co-leader of the opposition Democratic Party, have all showed up in PoliPoli.
It is so often and rampant these days that political issues trigger a heated discussion online. Through this application, Ito hopes to prevent such situations through its “Polin Tokens” that will only be awarded to users who do not post slanderous, oppressive, or abusive comments. PoliPoli plans to start distributing the tokens in September, in preparation for the unified local and upper house elections set to happen next year.
PoliPoli targets to enable users (citizens) to give tokens to politicians they approve of. Politicians will then collect the tokens given by their supporters to be used to purchase data collected by the application, which they can use in formulating their policy plans and campaign strategies.
If the demand for Polins continue to grow, Ito plans to enable holders to trade tokens to virtual currency and be utilized for financial transaction. This concept is known as “token economy,” which means users are given incentives by their contribution to the community when the value of tokens grow in the future.
Ito said, “Everyone around us suggested politics wouldn’t be an easy and profitable business.”
Contrary to that, he found a huge potential for technology and innovation in the field of politics after knowing about its existing market of donations, which is worth ¥200 billion yearly.
The core function of PoliPoli’s token economy structure is incentivization, which Ito learned during his childhood in Nagoya suburb when his parents used to give him rewards of collectible card packs whenever he studied hard. His hard work led him to study in a prestigious school.
Ito also got into haiku and he found limited opportunities for haiku composers to post their crafts online. He attended a two-month crash course on coding and subsequently created the mobile application Haiku Tefutefu. It is a social media platform that gives composers an opportunity to stage their works by posting them on the internet.
“Such a service used to incur exorbitant costs to produce, but now an 18-year-old can create this level of communication among people,” he said. “It’s really the age of empowered individuals.”
Ito believes that investors and startups are few in Japan. He is calling on his fellow students to challenge status quo.
When asked about his ambition to introduce a brand-new political system in Japan, he said
“Once I start, I shouldn’t drop the ball. I’ll do it seriously.”
“The field of politics involves substantial risks… but taking the risks brings me some intriguing sights I have never seen.”
PoliPoli brings innovation by “entertaining” fields in which political innovation is behind schedule. It is a platform project stood up to meet the needs of both politicians and voters by creating economic zones using token economy.
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