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 explosive eruption on Mt. Shindake in Kagoshima Prefecture on Friday is likely to have involved the direct ejection of magma, or direct subterranean contact between magma and groundwater, experts say. (The Japan News)
A sudden volcano eruption on the small southern Japanese island of Kuchinoerabu-jima has forced authorities to raise the alert to the highest level and advise evacuation of the immediate area. (rt.com)
Twelve of the 29 suma mackerel tuna have died at Tokyo Sea Life Park in Edogawa Ward, Tokyo, since the aquarium released the fish into its tank less than a week ago, it was learned Thursday. There has been a mysterious die-off of kuromaguro bluefin tuna, hatsugatsuo and other species of bonito at the aquarium since December. (The Japan News)
On May 21, police in Japan's Miyagi Prefecture arrested a woman on swindling charges after the cashier at a local store erroneously handed her an extra 45,000 yen (US$370) in change. (rocketnews24.com)
In a crackdown on a business believed to be supporting organized crime, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Tuesday announced the bust of an illegal pornographic DVD business in Shinjuku Ward, reports TV Asahi (May 26). (Tokyo Reporter)