An Internet site has been offering rewards of up to 100,000 yen for predicting the winners in Sunday’s House of Representatives election.

The site known as eBet is run by the Tokyo-based Internet information provider Compath.

People who register are granted points for shopping at affiliated online sites. Under the site’s usual procedure, they can use the points to answer questions on various topics, and accrue more points if they give the correct answers. The points can then be exchanged for cash or products worth up to 100,000 yen.

But on Aug. 31, one day after the official campaign for the Lower House election started, the site launched a section on the election, soliciting users to predict the winner in each of the 300 Lower House districts as well as the total number of seats won by each party.

Another question is on how many of the 37 Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers who voted against the postal privatization bills in the Lower House in July will win re-election. All of these lawmakers, except for those who chose not to throw their hat into the ring, are running either as independents or on the tickets of new parties.

The section had drawn about 170,000 hits as of Friday.

Normally, the site discloses the odds for each multiple-choice answer for the questions. But the company has not disclosed the odds on the election predictions because doing so could violate the Public Offices Election Law, which prohibits publicizing the results of a popularity contest for election candidates.

Compath says it has run the site in an appropriate manner so that it does not infringe on relevant laws.

Investigations readied

Prefectural police headquarters nationwide prepared Saturday to launch investigations into about 150 cases of suspected violations of the Public Office Election Law, including vote buying, once the general election is over, the National Police Agency said.

The police were expected to question some 250 campaign staffers and search about 100 locations including campaign headquarters in relation to the cases, half of which are suspected of involving vote buying, NPA officials said.

According to the agency, the numbers of cases and campaign staffers to be investigated are at about the same levels as in the previous general election in 2003.

As of Friday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and 11 prefectural police forces had arrested or sent cases to prosecutors on 27 people on suspicion of violating the election law, mostly by taking obstructive actions such as destroying rival candidates’ campaign posters.

Voting moved forward Compiled from Kyodo, AP NAHA, Okinawa Pref. — Voting for the House of Representatives general election was held Saturday in two towns in Okinawa Prefecture, a day ahead of schedule due to an approaching typhoon.

The Okinawa prefectural election commission also decided to end the day’s voting in the towns of Yonaguni and Taketomi at 5 p.m., three hours earlier than usual.

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