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Japan Votes in Parliamentary Elections

Voters in Japan are heading to the polls Sunday for an election that could put pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to resign.

Public opinion polls indicate Mr. Abe's Liberal Democratic Party could lose control of the 242-member upper house of parliament in the vote.

A loss would not necessarily force Mr. Abe out of office because his party still controls the more powerful lower house of parliament, which approves the prime minister.

But a defeat would make it harder to pass legislation in the upper house. If the result is a severe loss, the LDP members may choose a new leader, who would become prime minister.

Mr. Abe has been hit by mistakes and scandals involving his ministers, which led three of them to resign and one to commit suicide.

The election will be the first national judgment of Mr. Abe's performance since he took office last September.

Some critics say the biggest campaign topic is the government's loss of 50 million pension records - leaving people worried about their retirement funds.

Andrew Horvat, a visiting professor of economics at Tokyo Keizai University, says the prime minister's agenda is different from the people's, and that is why the LDP will suffer heavy losses.

Mr. Abe's coalition needs to win at least 64 of the 121 seats up for election. The coalition currently maintains control with 132 seats.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.