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Campaigning begins for lower house by-election in Kagoshima

Official campaigning began Tuesday for a lower house by-election April 27 in Kagoshima Prefecture, the first national-level election since the contentious tax hike took effect earlier this month. The race, in which six candidates entered in the morning, is expected to center on a battle between a ruling Liberal Democratic Party candidate and an independent backed by the Democratic Party of Japan and three other opposition parties.

Campaigning begins for lower house by-election in Kagoshima

Official campaigning began Tuesday for a lower house by-election April 27 in Kagoshima Prefecture, the first national-level election since the contentious tax hike took effect earlier this month. The race, in which six candidates entered in the morning, is expected to center on a battle between a ruling Liberal Democratic Party candidate and an independent backed by the Democratic Party of Japan and three other opposition parties.

Over 60% not refraining from spending despite tax hike: Kyodo poll

A Kyodo News survey showed Saturday that 63.7 percent of respondents are not refraining from spending despite the April 1 raise in the consumption tax, while 34.8 percent said the tax rate hike to 8 percent from 5 percent has put some restraint on their spending. But the survey also showed that 67.5 percent voiced concerns about the future course of Japan's economy following the tax hike.

Japan's ruling party approves bill to revise referendum law

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party approved Wednesday a bill to revise the country's referendum law, paving the way for enactment during the current Diet session with an eye to future Constitutional reform. The crux of the proposed bill, endorsed at a joint meeting of LDP panels related to the matter, is to lower the minimum voting age from 20 to 18. The LDP, headed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will likely submit it to the Diet with other parties in early April.

Lawmaker Tokuda to step down over election scandal

House of Representatives member Takeshi Tokuda has decided to step down as his family members await court rulings on an election scandal involving Japan's largest hospital chain Tokushukai, a senior ruling Liberal Democratic Party member said Monday. Tokuda, 42, is expected to give up his parliamentary seat before being forced to do so, as he will lose it eventually under the so-called guilt-by-association rules of the public offices election law if Michiyo Stern, one of his elder sisters, receives a prison sentence, suspended or otherwise, on March 5.

67% opposed to relaxing Japan's arms export controls: Kyodo poll

A total of 66.8 percent of respondents in a Kyodo News opinion poll said they are opposed to relaxing Japan's arms export controls, while 25.7 percent expressed support, in a sign that many voters are cautious about the government's move to change Japan's self-imposed restrictions on arms exports. The nationwide telephone survey conducted over the weekend showed those opposed to relaxation of arms controls exceeded those in favor in all age groups. Among women, 74.7 percent said they are opposed to such a move.

67% opposed to relaxing Japan's arms export controls: Kyodo poll

A total of 66.8 percent of respondents in a Kyodo News opinion poll said they are opposed to relaxing Japan's arms export controls, while 25.7 percent expressed support, in a sign that many voters are cautious about the government's move to change Japan's self-imposed restrictions on arms exports. The nationwide telephone survey conducted over the weekend showed those opposed to relaxation of arms controls exceeded those in favor in all age groups. Among women, 74.7 percent said they are opposed to such a move.

Candidates make final push in Tokyo gubernatorial election

Candidates in the Tokyo gubernatorial election made their final push Saturday on the eve of voting, trying to reach out to voters under the heaviest snowfall to hit the capital in 20 years. The main contenders in Sunday's election include former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, 76, former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, 65, former Air Self-Defense Force chief Toshio Tamogami, 65, and Kenji Utsunomiya, 67, the former head of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations.

LDP to discuss right of collective self-defense with coalition ally

The No. 2 lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Sunday the party will discuss whether Japan should be allowed to exercise the right of collective self-defense with its coalition partner the New Komeito party, which has expressed a cautious stance on the issue. "We will discuss the issue with New Komeito to find common ground," LDP Secretary General Shigeru Ishiba said on an NHK TV program. "Before undergoing the process, I will not say by when we will reach a conclusion."

Abe vows to end deflation, create virtuous cycle with pay raises

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed Sunday to end the country's deflation and create a virtuous cycle that would lead to wage increases, calling for an early passage of spending bills to prop up the economy after the scheduled sales tax hike next April. Speaking at a congress of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, Abe also called for continued cooperation between the LDP, which he heads, and its junior coalition partner, the New Komeito party, to achieve "substantial results."
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