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LDP's election victory ranks as top Japan story in 2013

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

The landslide victory by the Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was chosen as the top domestic news story in 2013, a Kyodo News poll showed Monday.

The poll covered senior editors at Kyodo News and its member or subscriber newspapers and broadcasters, who were asked to select the 10 biggest domestic news events of this year.

The following are the top domestic news stories of 2013

(1) Abe strengthens power base with upper house election victory

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe strengthened his grip on power with his ruling coalition winning big in the upper house election in July. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its smaller partner, the New Komeito party, ended years of opposition control of the House of Councillors.

(2) Japan enacts controversial secrecy law

Japan enacted a controversial secrecy law to prevent leaks of state secrets, as the ruling coalition forced it through the upper house in December without bridging a gap with the opposition camp concerning an independent oversight system to ensure the public's right to know. Japan also launched a U.S.-style National Security Council in the month to speed up policy decisions on diplomacy and defense to cope with security challenges amid increasing Chinese assertiveness at sea and in airspace.

(3) Tokyo wins bid to host 2020 Olympic Games

Tokyo was chosen to host the 2020 Olympic Games, beating Istanbul and Madrid at the International Olympic Committee's general session in Buenos Aires in September. The Japanese capital will be the first Asian city to host the Olympic Games twice, having also hosted the 1964 Games.

(4) Japan decides to raise sales tax in April

The Japanese government decided in October to raise Japan's sales tax rate in April to 8 percent from the current 5 percent as planned, ending nearly a year of public speculation over whether it will sanction a tax increase that some experts warn could undermine the country's nascent economic recovery.

(5) Yen weakens, stock prices rise on "Abenomics" policy mix

As Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promoted economic policies centering on aggressive monetary easing and massive fiscal spending, the yen weakened to the 104 level against the U.S. dollar in December from less than 80 before he returned to power a year earlier, while the Nikkei stock index soared to near the 6,000 yen level from the 8,000 level.

(6) Japan joins Trans-Pacific Partnership trade negotiations

Japan made its belated debut as the 12th member of the negotiations in July in Malaysia after a four-month wait since announcing its intention in March to join the talks on creating one of the world's largest free trade areas.

(7) Highly toxic water leaks from tank at Fukushima plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said in August that an estimated 300 tons of highly radioactive water has leaked from one of the water storage tanks at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his government will take charge of efforts to contain the nuclear disaster following the toxic water leak at the Fukushima plant.

(8) Japan's relations with China, South Korea deteriorate

Japan's relations with China and South Korea have deteriorated over territorial and other issues, including territorial disputes over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, administered by Japan but claimed by China, and the South Korean-controlled islets in the Sea of Japan. The issues have prevented the countries from holding summit talks.

(9) Rakuten Eagles claim 1st-ever Japan Series title

The Rakuten Eagles captured their first-ever Japan Series championship in November, beating the mighty Yomiuri Giants four games to three. In this season, Eagles ace right-hander Masahiro Tanaka went 24-0 with one save and helped guide the Eagles to their first Pacific League pennant in the team's ninth year.

(10) Court voids poll in western Japan constituency over vote disparity

The Hiroshima High Court's Okayama branch ruled in November that the result of July's upper house election in a western Japan constituency should be invalidated due to an unconstitutional disparity in the weight of votes. In the month, the Supreme Court also ruled that disparities in last December's general election were "in a state of unconstitutionality."

==Kyodo

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/131223/ldps-election-victory-ranks-top-japan-story-2013