2014 年 85 巻 p. 2-3
The planning of this special edition was triggered by Japan's Upper House Parliamentary election in the summer of 2013 when election campaigns using the Internet were run for the first time in the country's history. Japanese media reports at the time of lifting of the ban on the use of the Internet for election campaigns extolled the start of online election campaigns and pointed out that there would be a variety of potential electoral campaigns from then on. How- ever, as the articles in this special edition indicate, many have said that the impact on the actual election of Internet use for election campaigns was low due to low voter turnout and a lack of data showing a significant correlation between Internet usage and the election results. Nevertheless, given the events that occurred inside and outside Japan around the time that the ban on using the Internet for election campaigns was lifted, it can be said that the start of the use of the Internet for the summer 2013 election campaigns marked a milestone, and that we should reconsider the status of political communications in Japan in the social context, and not merely think of the impact of the Internet. Particularly since 2010, pro-democracy movements such as the Arab Spring and protest movements including the Occupy movement have developed on the back of the spread of social networks such as Twitter and Facebook and the increasing number of smartphone users globally. The anti-nuclear movement seen in Japan around the same time - albeit, a somewhat different kind of movement - appears to have the same communication structure. If one looks at dominant opinions on the Internet in recent years and uses right-leaning opinions as an example, it can be seen that using the Internet has become more significant as a method for political activities for certain age groups and segments of society. Furthermore, objections against companies that exploit their employees - such movements started coming to the surface in 2013 - should be considered as political communications made through the means of easy-to-access information. This special edition aims to examine the relationship between the Internet and political communications, including possibilities that will be traced back to the concept of social change through digital technologies, which has been called "Cyberactivism" (McCaughey, 2014) since 2000s. The main purpose of this special edition, however, is to investigate what kind of roles mass media, which has been playing a key role in terms of political communications in conventional Japanese society, will be able to take on in the current communication environment, in which a diversity of different types of media and networks are developing. Based on this background, we have asked the writers for this special edition to discuss matters in accordance with their respective fields of expertise, in order to clarify the dynamics of political communications through media and networks in Japan from the past to the present, focusing on the impact of the Internet on the content of specific online political information and the use of such content.