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Campaign for Japan's Upper House election kicks off

TOKYO, June 22 (KUNA) -- The 18-day campaign for Japan's Upper House election on July 10 kicked off Wednesday, giving an opportunity to voters to pass judgment on Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration in the past nine months. As of 1:00 p.m. (0400 GMT), a total of 542 persons filed their candidacy, according to public broadcaster NHK. Election administration committees nationwide will accept registrations until 5 p.m. 125 of the upper chamber's 248 seats will be up for grabs in the upcoming poll -- 75 seats in single -- seat districts and 50 through proportional representation.
The key issues in the race will include Kishida's COVID-19 response, soaring prices in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and security policy issues including defense spending. Kishida made his first stump speech in the northeastern city of Fukushima that was hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Attention is focused on whether the ruling coalition made up of his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headed by Kishida and the minor Komeito Party can maintain its majority in the upper chamber. With half of the 248 seats uncontested, the LDP-Komeito coalition needs to win 56 seats to keep the majority.
"This election will ask who can achieve the results in tackling big challenges, such as the reconstruction of Fukushima, the fight against the new coronavirus, and response to the Ukraine crisis and rising prices," the premier said in front of crowd. "We must gain political stability, overcome these challenges, and ask for people's firm judgement about who will open up the future," he said. (end) mk.lb