Local Elections Across Japan

Local elections across Japan

In Japan, voting for mayors and municipal assemblies has begun in the second round of local elections. Lower House by-elections are also taking place. The polls are viewed as forerunners to the Upper House elections this summer.

Polling stations started opening at 7 a.m. on Sunday. In all, 721 elections are being held for mayors and municipal assembly seats.

Major issues in local elections include how to deal with declining populations, support for child-rearing, and welfare for the elderly.

In the by-election in Okinawa's number-3 electoral district, the seat vacated by Governor Denny Tamaki is up for grabs.

The constituency includes the Henoko district of Nago City, where the central government's landfill project is underway for the relocation of the US Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station.

The planned relocation is a major issue in which the ruling and opposition blocs effectively face off.

The by-election in the number-12 Osaka district follows the death of a member of the main governing Liberal Democratic Party. Four candidates are contesting the seat in a heated race.

The results of the two by-elections may affect Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's handling of his government and each party's strategy in the run-up to the Upper House elections.

Ballot counting will begin after polling stations close at 8 p.m.