Photo/IllutrationThe Central Hall located between the Lower House and Upper House buildings has bronze statues of famous figures, such as Hirobumi Ito. The area is popular for visitors, but they were banned from taking photos and videos there until Nov. 7. (Tamiyuki Kihara)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Visitors at the National Diet building in Tokyo can now take photos and videos of the bronze statues of Hirobumi Ito, Shigenobu Okuma and Taisuke Itagaki, political heavyweights during the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

Restrictions were significantly eased on Nov. 8 as part of Diet reforms by the Upper House.

Until now, visitors to the Upper House could only take pictures and videos at its lobby for visitors and in a parking lot where they can see the entire Diet building.

The Upper House Rules and Administration Committee started discussions on rules for photos and videos after an opposition member posted a video online of the inside of the Diet building taken without obtaining permission.

At a meeting on Nov. 7, the committee decided to allow people to take photos and videos where they have previously been banned as long as they follow the rules, such as not taking pictures and videos for commercial purposes and not doing so while walking.

Visitors to the Lower House are able to take photos and videos only at its chamber and outside buildings on a tour route.

According to both chambers of the Diet, about 570,000 people visited the Lower House building in 2018, while the Upper House building received some 280,000 visitors.

The chambers say many of the visitors are participants on school trips or supporters of a lawmaker who invited them to visit.