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.
Land prices in Japan for this year fell 0.4 pct on average from the previous year, dropping for the seventh straight year but at a slower pace than the previous year's 0.7 pct, the government said Wednesday. (Jiji Press)
Tokyo Metropolitan Police last week confirmed that a body discovered buried in a cemetery in Kanagawa Prefecture is that of a 25-year-old woman who went missing two years ago. Police are now attempting to locate her son, reports the Sankei Shimbun (June 26). (Tokyo Reporter)
Japan's traditional kendama ball-and-cup toy has been reborn as a new sport and is attracting attention around the world. Professional players demonstrate their highly sophisticated techniques on Internet video sites, and a world championship event was held last year featuring the first monetary prizes to be awarded for kendama in Japan. (The Japan News)