In Japan, campaigning began on Friday (17 June) for the Upper House elections which take place next month.
In Japan, campaigning began on Friday (17 June) for the Upper House elections which take place next month. At stake are half of the 152 seats in the chamber. It will be the first major test of opinion for the country's ruling Liberal Democratic Party since last year's general elections.
SYNOPSIS: As the balloon went up proclaiming the July 10th election, Prime Minister Takeo Fukuda and his party managers were busy calculating what effects the voting might have. The Liberal Democrats, who have ruled for 22 years, suffered their first real setback in last year's general election when their majority in the Lower House was substantially reduced. The party's connection with the Lockheed bribes affair and other scandals hurt them badly and it could be a significant factor again in these elections. More than 330 candidates have registered with the Election Management Commission, for next month's poll.
The Prime Minister has told his supporters that the forthcoming upper house election will determine the political course of Japan for the foreseeable future. If the Liberal Democrats do badly next month, it could drastically slow down the Government's programmes. A hostile upper house could make it impossible for the lower house to pass major bills and might threaten the country's economic recovery.
The main opposition to the Government is expected to come from the Socialist Party. The party's leader,Mr. Tomomi Narita,said he was confident the ruling party would lose its majority. He said it was time to put an end to the Government's inflation politics. But most Japanese political observers do not expect the Liberal Democrats to lose their majority but even officials at LDP headquarters expect that the party will lose a few seats.