Japanese PM seeks policy endorsement at polls
An election campaign official of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a posterof Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi
Many of the public appear drawn by the superstar aura surrounding Mr Koizumi as much as his policies.
"I didn't have a favorite party, but I voted for the LDP based on the personality of its leader Koizumi," said 30-year-old Yuko Hayashi after she voted in central Tokyo's Minato ward.
Mr Koizumi needs a respectable showing for his long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to claim a popular mandate for his reforms of the long-stagnant economy.
The Prime Minister’s three-way ruling coalition needs to win 63 seats to keep a majority in the Upper House, whose membership will fall to 247 from 252 after this election.
Media surveys suggested support for the LDP had slipped on the eve of the election but the LDP-led three-party ruling bloc still looked on track to keep its majority.
A survey by the Mainichi Shimbunnewspaper showed support for the LDP had fallen slightly in the proportional representation section of the election, where 48 seats will be decided. Another 73 seats are from first-past-the-post electoral districts.
Mr Koizumi swept to power in April in a surprise victory over old-guard rivals with the support of LDP members desperate for a new image to avoid defeat in the Upper House election.