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The government began accepting ballots Tuesday for the June 25 Lower House election from Japanese living abroad or aboard ships — the first time overseas voting has been permitted for a national election.

Japanese adults who have been living in one location overseas for three months or more are eligible to vote at Japanese embassies and consulates, or by mail in an absentee ballot, while crew members of designated ships can fax in their votes.

Japanese embassies and consulates around the world were to begin accepting votes at 9:30 a.m. local time Tuesday. An estimated 590,000 people are entitled to vote, but only 57,407 people, or 9.7 percent, have registered as overseas voters, according to the Foreign Ministry.

They can vote only in the proportional representation section of Lower and Upper House elections.

The number of ship crew members eligible to vote is about 30,000.

They can vote in constituencies and the proportional representation sections of both houses of the Diet by faxing the election administration committees of 54 designated municipal governments in Japan.

The Public Offices Election Law was revised in April 1998 to enable Japanese voters abroad to vote in national elections. An August 1999 amendment allows ship crew members to vote in national polls.