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.
The Thai man who admitted to killing Yoshinori Shimato, a 79-year-old Japanese teacher who had been missing since late September, has confessed to killing another Japanese man, a Thai police official said Friday. (Japan Times)
Trade chiefs from 12 countries involved in an ambitious Pacific free trade initiative started a three-day meeting Saturday in Sydney in a bid to make progress toward a U.S.-proposed goal of reaching a deal by year-end. (Kyodo)
Japan will check the recent travel histories of all people arriving at international airports in the country to identify those who have visited Ebola-affected West African countries, the health ministry said Friday. (The Japan News)
The government said Friday it has chosen Nobel physics prize laureates Shuji Nakamura and Hiroshi Amano and five others as this year's winners of Japan's top cultural award, the Order of Culture. (Kyodo)