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.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sunday called the killing of a Japanese captive by Islamic State militants "outrageous" and again demanded the group release a second Japanese national they are holding. (Reuters)
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday it is highly likely that an image purporting to show that one of the two Japanese hostages being held by a group believed to be Islamic State has been killed is authentic. (Kyodo)
With his record-setting 33rd Emperor's Cup already in the bag, yokozuna Hakuho added a perfect 15-0 finish to his accomplishments on the final day of the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament at Tokyo's Ryogoku Kokugikan on Jan. 25. (Asahi)
A former senior Aum Supreme Truth cult member on death row testified about how the cult's leader ordered his followers to commit a series of deadly crimes, at the trial of a fellow former member at the Tokyo District Court on Friday. (The Japan News)
The former AKB48 idol Anna Mori is crowdfunding her first photobook after recently turning 20 years old (the "age of majority" in Japan, similar to turning 18 in the U.S.) and quickly raised 2,000,000 yen (about US$16,957) with a little help from some unique backer rewards. Mori offered threedates for backers who paid 200,000 yen (US$1,695).
A former senior Aum Supreme Truth cult member on death row claimed responsibility for a fellow former member's involvement in a series of Aum-committed deadly crimes, in a trial at Tokyo District Court on Wednesday. (The Japan News)