Tokyo election sees abuse of campaign poster boards

A Japanese election campaign wouldn't be complete without official poster boards, which give candidates the chance to show the public their faces and promote their platforms. But some of the boards in a recent gubernatorial campaign in Tokyo featured racy images and commercial advertising.

The blurred poster is of an almost-naked young woman.

On the day the campaign kicked off, Tokyo residents were surprised to spot images of a nearly naked woman on an official election board. Next to her was a message: "Stop restrictions on freedom of expression."

Another board, in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, was plastered with 24 posters advertising the name of an adult entertainment shop.

Tokyo police warned the people responsible ― the candidate and a political group leader ― for violating a city regulation and the law.

Twenty-four spaces carry the same poster.

In addition, some boards had the same posters occupying 24 slots. The people shown were not candidates. Some of the boards had QR codes leading to social media accounts.

Effectively, these spaces were used for advertising. The political group was allocated 24 spaces, and received payment for their use.

There is no rule that directly restricts posters' content, according to the internal affairs ministry.

Both the ruling and opposition parties are calling for revisions to the law, saying the problem is one they had never expected. Discussions are expected to be held in the Diet.

Yamazaki Arata, an expert of elections and voting behavior

An expert in elections and voting behavior said the current law is based on the principles of trust and good intentions. The recent poster abuse has the potential of lowering people's confidence in politics, he said.