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Campaigning for House of Councillors election begins in Japan
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14:04, July 12, 2007

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Campaigning for the House of Councillors election officially started on Thursday in Japan, with candidates from ruling and opposition camps taking to the streets from early morning to canvass for votes.

At eight o'clock in the morning, the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry Central Election Committee started to accept list of candidates from big electorate, and similar committees on prefectural level began to receive application of candidates from small electorate.

During the 17-day campaigning, candidates as well as party leaders from the two camps will also issue advertisements and hold debates and interviews to express their political positions and policies.

Revision of the pension system, amendment of the pacifist Constitution and problems relating with political funds will be popular topics of debate in the campaigning.

This is the first parliamentary election since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in September, and is the only political election this year in Japan.

Half of the 242 seats in the House of Councillors are at stake in the election. According to an estimate of Kyodo News, 378 candidates are expected to file for candidacy.

Situation are tough for the ruling coalition made up of the Liberal Democratic Party and the minor Komeito Party, which have to grab 64 seats to retain its majority.

Opposition leaders took the opportunity of a nationwide televised debate on Wednesday to launch their attack on Abe's administration.

Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa said he is determined to win the election, which he said will be "the only chance to rebuild this country," Kyodo News reported.

Abe's government have been embarrassed by a series of troubles in the past ten months, such as scandals involving Cabinet ministers and the blunder of losing millions of pension records by the Social Insurance Agency.

Abe has refused to define a setback in the election and refrained from talking about whether he would take responsibility if the ruling bloc was defeated.

National opinion polls showed that the support rate for Abe's Cabinet hit record lows in the past two month as the disapproval rate reached new highs.

Source: Xinhua

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