The ruling Liberal Democratic Party found itself the object of ridicule and bewilderment after it handed out a booklet that mocks opposition leaders and warns party members to be on the lookout for "fake" news.

Twenty-five copies of the booklet were distributed to each LDP lawmaker in the two Diet chambers ahead of the official July 4 start of campaigning for the Upper House election on July 21. An accompanying letter dated June 11 urged them to use the booklet as a resource during the campaign.

Some LDP lawmakers were scratching their heads in puzzlement over the negative strategy.

The booklet, which runs to 140 pages or so, is titled “Japan undermined by fake information: Absurdity of outrageous opposition parties and media.”

“Please make good use of the booklet as reference material in your campaign speeches,” the letter advises, adding that the booklet was published by a news website.

“The opposition parties and some media outlets have frequently disseminated false information,” the letter says.

It goes on to state that the booklet “contains the truth that hasn’t been reported in the news media.”

The booklet takes note of remarks made by opposition party members during Diet sessions and news conferences and criticizes those politicians as having “lost their minds.”

It also devotes considerable space to media coverage of moves to amend the Constitution and the election of the LDP president, a position held by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The opposition parties and the media do "nothing but find fault with and criticize the Abe administration,” the booklet says.

The front cover bears the publisher’s name as “Terrace Press,” but the address of the company and author’s name are nowhere to be found.

The LDP’s public relations office admitted to The Asahi Shimbun that the party distributed the booklet to its members as a campaign resource but refused to reveal how and from whom the party obtained it.

Some Diet members were unable to conceal their bewilderment and skepticism at being the recipients of such material.

“The booklet belittles the leader of the main opposition party with a caricature. We don't even have a clue about the source of the contents,” said a middle-ranking lawmaker with a strong background on the workings of the Internet.

“Distributing such a booklet as party-endoresed material works to the detriment of the political party in power,” the lawmaker added.

Another lawmaker, a former Cabinet member, expressed disappointment that “the LDP has finally stooped this low."

Even so, the lawmaker said a certain proportion of lawmakers will probably refer to the booklet in their speeches.

The website of the booklet’s supposed publisher was set up in mid-May last year, and its first post was dated July 13.

The website promises to "report the latest news in order to let the public know about the truth untold in the news media.”

The website has categories such as domestic and international current events and politics.

Contrary to the company’s declaration, however, not a single news article published by Terrace Press came up in Runda, the largest news search engine.

“If it really is an online news site, its objective must be to be seen by as many people as possible,” said Shunji Kitamura, president of AUR, the company that operates Runda.

But in the investigation by AUR, the website seems to operate in a manner that doesn't connect to search engine services.

“Maybe the publisher intentionally keeps the website out of circulation,” Kitamura speculated.

A Tokyo-based Internet advertising company has analyzed Terrace Press and found that the website is accessed less than 200 times a day on average.

As it doesn't carry ads, it would seem the publisher funds all operating expenses.

(This article was written by Isamu Nikaido, Tatsuya Sudo, a senior staff writer, and Hikaru Nakamura.)