In a move that could be taken as a threat to press freedom, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party sent a letter to Tokyo-based TV networks requesting that they pay extra attention to ensure neutrality in their reporting during the official campaign period for the Dec. 14 Lower House election.

The written request, issued on Nov. 20, the day before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the Diet for a snap election, was addressed to programming directors and top news editors at five major networks based in Tokyo. The letter's senders were Koichi Hagiuda, a top aide to Abe, and Teru Fukui, an LDP official in charge of press affairs.

The LDP has sent similar requests in the past, as have other parties, but it seems rare for the party to issue such letters to broadcasters before the official campaign kicks off. The campaign for the Dec. 14 election is set to begin on Dec. 2.