Japan and Digital Politics [9:50 am]
No home pages. No blogs. No spam mailings and certainly no fund-raising. None are allowed in one of the most technology-obsessed nations on Earth.
For Takafumi Horie, a 32-year-old rebel in a country distinctly lacking in antiheroes, those edicts are like telling George Bush he can’t campaign with Karl Rove.
“I need to get to the people in the area and I keep thinking: If only I had the freedom to use phone mail, photo mail, viral marketing and ring tones to get my message across,” Horie lamented this week before an audience in Tokyo.
“But most Diet members don’t know how to use the Internet,” he said, citing lawmakers’ discomfort with technology as more evidence that Japan’s political class is out of touch.
Using the Internet for political ends is not, strictly speaking, outlawed. It simply falls outside the category of admissible campaigning.
The ban on digital politics has its roots in the Public Office Election Law passed in 1950, which anticipated the age of spam by outlawing the “distribution of documents and graphics to unspecified general public.”