Japan is finally dropping restrictions on the use of the Internet as an election campaign tool in a first step toward sweeping changes to the outdated Public Offices Election law before the Upper House poll slated for July.

Amid mounting pressure from tech-savvy lawmakers and voters who demand more robust online political discussions during campaigns, the Lower House on Friday is slated to pass a ruling coalition-sponsored bill to allow political parties and candidates, as well as voters, to harness the Internet during campaigns.

This deregulation will test whether the Internet can invigorate political discourse through more comprehensive and open discussions on the Web, which lawmakers hope will lead to higher voter turnouts.