Actor Yamamoto, ex-wrestler Inoki assured of election victory

Taro Yamamoto, an actor known for his antinuclear activities, and former Japanese wrestling star Antonio Inoki were assured of victory in Sunday's House of Councillors election, Kyodo News projections and early returns showed.

Yamamoto, 38, who ran as an independent in the Tokyo constituency, is set to enter the upper chamber after failing to win a seat in the House of Representatives election last December.

He became known for his antinuclear activities following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. He has also campaigned against Japan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, while calling for improved social security.

Inoki, 70, ran in the upper house's proportional representation block for the Japan Restoration Party, co-headed by former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

The wrestling legend became an upper house lawmaker in 1989 when he ran as a member of the now-defunct Sports Peace Party. He lost his seat in 1995. As a lawmaker, Inoki played a role in negotiating the release of Japanese hostages in Iraq in 1990 during the Persian Gulf War.