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Japan gears up for decisive election

Published on Jul 4, 2013 6:13 AM
Japanese Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe (centre) shakes hands with Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Banri Kaieda (left) and co-leader of Japan Restoration Party Toru Hashimoto (right) prior to their political debate with other party leaders at the Japan national press club in Tokyo on July 3, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO, Japan (AFP) - Campaigning begins on Thursday in an election expected to give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe an almost unbeatable hand, ushering in the stability he needs to fix Japan's floundering economy.

Voters nationwide will go to the polls on July 21 to elect half of the 242 seats in the upper house of parliament.

With approval ratings as high as 70 per cent, Mr Abe is expected to romp home, bagging control of both houses and leaving him with the prospect of no public vote for three years.

Supporters say he will use that political clout to force changes on cossetted and inefficient industries, like agriculture, and to cut a swathe through labour laws that businesses claim make it too difficult to hire and fire workers.

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