People in Japan have begun voting in an election that polls suggest could deal a heavy blow to the conservative government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The ballot is for half the seats in parliament’s house and comes just 10 months after Abe came to power. But doubts about his leadership abilities have been fuelled by a series of gaffes and scandals that led two cabinet members to resign and one to commit suicide.
Critics also say Abe, whose top priorities are revising the constitution and reforming education is out of touch with voters’ worries about bread-and-butter issues such as the economy, pensions and health care.
Public support for the Liberal Democrats-led coalition has been steadily undermined by the opposition Democratic Party.
The ruling camp will not be be ousted from government if it loses in the upper house, since it has a huge majority in the more powerful lower chamber, which elects the premier.
However a heavy defeat would intensify pressure on Abe to stand down as the work of the parliamentary goals of the government would be much harder to achieve.