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.
Grand champion Hakuho defeated his Mongolian compatriot, Harumafuji, on Sunday to win his 30th career title at the Nagoya Grand Sumo Tournament, edging closer to the all-time championship record in Japan's ancient sport.
The city government of Satsumasendai and Kagoshima Prefecture on Sunday provided residents near the Sendai nuclear power station with iodine preparations in case of an accident at the plant owned by Kyushu Electric Power Co. <9508>. (Jiji Press)
The results of a poll to pick the 16 singers who will perform on the next single by SNH48, the Shanghai-based sister group of the hugely popular all-female pop group AKB48, were released over the weekend at an event that drew more than 3,000 fans. (Japan Times)