Polls Open In Japan's Upper House Election

Polls open in Japan's Upper House election

People across Japan are casting their ballots in the Upper House election.

About 47,000 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. on Sunday.

The internal affairs ministry says the voter turnout was 5.65 percent as of 10 a.m., down 2.27 percentage points from the previous Upper House election three years ago.

Ministry officials say more than 14 million people, or about 13 percent of eligible voters, cast their ballots by Friday under the early voting system.

The number is up 7 percent, or about 970,000 voters, from the previous Upper House poll.

In most parts of the country, polling stations will be open until 8 p.m. Officials will start tallying the votes as soon as polls close.

Half of the Upper House seats are up for grabs, in an election that may prove to be a barometer of public opinion on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's six and a half years in power.

Key platform issues include amending the Constitution, hiking the consumption tax, and the state's pension system.

Tonight, 124 seats are up for grabs, including three that are newly added.

It's part of an effort to address a long-standing disparity in the value of individual votes.

Concerns have been raised that votes cast in sparsely populated areas are worth more than those in densely populated ones.