After years of restrictions, the use of the Internet will likely be liberalized for use in election campaigns. According to the Daily Yomiuri, one of Japan’s leading dailies, the nation’s major political parties have jointly agreed to allow the use of services, like Twitter, during future campaigns.
Drafted by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the opposing Democratic Party of Japan, the proposed bills offer revisions to the Public Offices Election Law and other assorted regulations. Specifically, the propositions lift or alter restrictions that were placed on the use of e-mail and social networking services. Further, the bills also describe penalties for those found guilty of falsifying information or slander. In an interview last month, current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his support of the changes, stating, “The Internet is an effective way to convey opinions to a large number of people.”
The strides toward liberalization of Internet usage in campaigns come largely in response to the growing number of Facebook and Twitter users. Not surprisingly, many of these users come from the younger generation, who’ve been viewed as partially apathetic to politics by some. An increased penetration in social media could arguably alleviate this, forming a better connection between the government and its younger citizens.