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Report No. 255

(v) Japan


2.26.17. Articles 127 and 194 of the Public Office Election Act, 1950 (hereinafter "POEA") limit election expenses of candidates based on the type of elections and the number of voters in the constituency. For instance, in an election to the House of Representatives, candidates can spend 15 yen x the number of registered voters in the constituency + 19.1 million yen.

The POEA aims to place a ceiling on campaign expenses to ensure the elimination of inequalities in the campaign, achieved through prohibiting door to door campaigning; restricting internet usage; regulating (print and electronic) advertising and the size and number of placards and posters; and shortening the campaign period to between 12-17 days depending on the type of elections.83

83. Matthew Wilson, E-Elections: Time for Japan to Embrace Online Campaigning, 2011 Stan Tech. L.R. 4,9; Government of Japan: Japan Electoral Laws, Columbia University

2.26.18. However, there does not seem to be any article in the PFCA limiting the expenditure by political parties.84

84. IDEA, Political Finance Data for Japan,


2.26.19. Article 22.5 of the PFCA prohibits donations by foreign interests to parties or candidates. Further, Article 22.6 prohibits anonymous donations, in relation to elections or other political activities, to political parties. However, this prohibition does not apply to streets or meeting collections if the donation amount is under 1,000 yen. There is a complete ban on anonymous donations to individual candidate.85

85. Id.

2.26.20. Corporate donations are prohibited to individual candidates under Article 21.3 of the Political Fund Control Act, 1948 (hereinafter "PFCA"), although this ban does not apply to fundraisers, where candidates can charge 1.5 million yen per ticket per seat.

2.26.21. In the case of political parties, corporate (and labour union and other organisations') donations are limited under Article 21.3 and Article 22.4 of the PFCA to 7.5 million to 30 million yen, and cannot be made by corporations that have incurred deficit in the last years. Further, there are specific ceilings for organisations based on their capital amount, number of union members and other factors.86 Corporates with government contracts or partial government ownership cannot donate money to parties (or candidates).

86. Id.

2.26.22. Individuals can donate up to 20 million yen per year to political parties/organisations under Article 21.3 and 1.5 million yen per year to "persons other than political parties or political organisations" under Article 22 of the PFCA.87

87. Id.


2.26.23. Article 12 of the PFCA requires political parties to disclose their incomes and expenses annually, along with their internal audit, and present their reports to the Minister of General Affairs or the Election Control Commission. These reports are made available for public inspection for three years (at no cost) and are uploaded online.

2.26.24. Campaign finances of candidates are also internally audited. Articles 189 and 192 deal with disclosure obligations for candidates, whose campaign accountants must maintain records of revenue and expenditure reports and present them to the Local Election Management Council ("LEMC"). A summary of these reports are made public on LEMC's website and should be maintained for three years to allow for public inspection.88

88. Id.

2.26.25. Article 12 of the PFCA further provides that the identities of donors must be disclosed if they contribute more than 50,000 yen.


2.26.26. If a candidate is found to have spent more than the stipulated campaign expense, their election will be nullified. Further, under the PFCA, filing financial reports in contravention with the Act can result in a penalty of up to three years imprisonment or a fine of up to 500,000 yen. Article 31 empowers the Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications or the Electoral Commission to order the person who has filed a deficient or incomplete report to explain the same and file a corrected report. Articles 22 and 28 of the PFCA provide for forfeiture options as well.

2.26.27. Conversely, violations under the POEA by the candidate or their campaign accountants/general managers/relatives/secretaries such as bribing voters, disturbing elections, door to door canvassing, and other such violations result in an investigation by the police and if necessary, prosecution as criminal offences.

Candidates found to have committed an election crime are disqualified under Article 251-252 of the POEA, along with being disqualified from voting or standing for elections in the future. Further, candidates found to be engaging in unauthorised campaign activities during the 'black out' period are subject to two years imprisonment and a fine up to 500,00 yen.89

89. Wilson, supra note 83

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