Official campaigning got under way Thursday for the Upper House election later this month in a key test of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's leadership over the past seven months.
Abe has set the goal of wresting control of the chamber from the opposition parties in the July 21 election and solidifying the Liberal Democratic Party's power base so he can achieve his key policy objectives, including firing all three of his economic policy "arrows" and rewriting the pacifist Constitution.
The opposition camp is struggling to erode Abe's relatively high support rate, which he has enjoyed since the LDP trounced the Democratic Party of Japan in the December general election and returned to power.
Half of the 242 seats in the Upper House are up for grabs every three years under a combination of districts and proportional representation. About 430 candidates are expected to vie for the 121 seats at stake.
Wrong and inappropriate names had temporarily appeared on Google Maps for the Imperial Palace, Tokyo's Metropolitan Police Department and many other places in Japan, it was learned Monday. (Jiji Press)
Looking chipper, Paul McCartney arrived at Kansai International Airport here in a chartered plane on the morning of April 20 for the first time since the ex-Beatle canceled his entire Japan tour in May 2014 because of illness. (Asahi)
A British couple who tied the knot at a Kyoto shrine have become the first to receive a memorial marriage certificate from the city, under a newly created program to attract more foreign visitors. (Asahi)
A teacher who buried five newborn kittens, four of which were still alive, on school grounds in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture, has been charged with violating the law on welfare and management of animals. (Japan Today)
A man broke into an unattended "koban" (police box) at JR Odawara Station in Kanagawa Prefecture on Sunday night and smashed windows before mutilating both his cheeks with a knife, police said Monday. (Japan Today)
Police in Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture, are investigating the murder of an 84-year-old woman whose body was found in the Tatara River on April 15. She had a plastic bag over her head and a scarf pulled tightly around her neck when she was found. (Japan Today)
Investigators have found 7.85 million passwords, credit card numbers and other pieces of stolen personal information on an Internet server seized last year from a Tokyo-based firm that provided proxy servers for Chinese users, Tokyo police said Friday. (Japan Times)
Time magazine has named two Japanese among its list of the world's 100 most influential people of 2015: novelist Haruki Murakami and Marie Kondo, an organizing consultant whose book introducing her art of tidying up became a best-seller. (NHK)