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Japanese voters are casting ballots in parliamentary elections, in a vote that will test the confidence of the ruling Democrats' 10 months in power.
About 100 million Japanese citizens are eligible to cast ballots in some 50 thousand polling stations. The upper house election is the first national poll since the Democratic Party of Japan rose to power last September. Early polls showed that Prime Minister Naoto Kan's party will likely lose seats in the 242-member upper house, where half the seats are up for grabs. The drop in popularity is partly due to Kan's suggestion for a rise in sales taxes in the coming years, to cope with an aging and shrinking population. The ruling coalition has been campaigning to secure at least 56 seats to retain a majority in the upper house.