Campaigning Starts for Upper House By-Election in Oita Pref.

OITA (Jiji Press) — The official campaign period started Thursday for a by-election for a seat representing the prefecture of Oita in the House of Councillors, the upper chamber of the country’s parliament, with key issues including child-rearing support and measures to deal with soaring prices.

The April 23 by-election is expected to be a one-on-one battle between Aki Shirasaka, a first-time candidate backed by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and Tadatomo Yoshida, a former Upper House lawmaker fielded by the leading opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan. The two filed their candidacies on Thursday morning.

Shirasaka, a 56-year-old hostess club owner, is recommended by Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner. Yoshida, 67, is supported by the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party, both opposition parties. The Oita prefectural chapter of the opposition Democratic Party for the People also supports Yoshida.

The poll is closely watched as an interim evaluation for the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, president of the LDP.

Also to be held on April 23 are four by-elections for the House of Representatives, the lower parliamentary chamber, as well as some mayoral and other polls in the second-half round of unified local elections.

The results of the elections are expected to affect Kishida’s decision on whether to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election, pundits said.

The Upper House by-election in Oita is for filling the vacancy left by the resignation of Kiyoshi Adachi, who was an opposition-affiliated independent lawmaker. He quit the job to run in the Oita gubernatorial election to be held on Sunday.