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LDP, DPJ agree on bill to allow Internet electioneering

JIJI

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Japan have struck a deal on a bill to lift a ban on Web-based election campaigning, sources said.

At a working-level meeting Wednesday, the two parties agreed to delay the DPJ-proposed full liberalization of the use of email in electioneering until after the House of Councilors poll this summer, the first in which online campaigning would be permitted if the bill is passed.

The legislation to revise the Public Offices Election Law will be amended in accordance with the agreement reached by the two parties. The amended version will be put to a vote at the Lower House Special Committee on Political Ethics and Election Law as early as Friday, and is likely to clear the Diet in the current session ending in June.

So far, two bills on revised election campaigning have been submitted to the Diet, one trilaterally sponsored by the LDP, New Komeito — its junior coalition ally — and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), and the other by the DPJ and Your Party.

The LDP-sponsored bill calls for lifting a ban on the use of email during official campaigning only if the messages are sent by political parties or their candidates. The constraint is designed to prevent slander and spoofing. The other bill has no such restrictions.

The LDP and DPJ, the main opposition force, agreed to amend the ruling bloc’s bill to include a provision that appropriate steps will be taken for the proposed full liberalization by the next national election after the Upper House poll.

The two parties also discussed the possible future introduction of Internet-based balloting. They agreed to pass a resolution, along with legislation, that would call for appropriate steps based on the result of discussions on technical and other aspects of online balloting.