Elections for the House of Councillors will be held a week from today. The election is being billed as historic in that candidates are permitted to appeal to voters via the Internet.

To the near-exclusion of the other 120 seats in contention, however, the tabloid media have focused on one candidate in particular: Miki Watanabe, who's been endorsed by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), is running for one of the 48 proportional seats up for grabs.

The 53-year-old Watanabe, a self-made entrepreneur, is founder and former chairman of Watami, a conglomerate that includes the Watami chain of izakaya (Japanese-style pubs), several catering services, agribusinesses and rest homes. The Watami corporate website says the group employs 6,157 people.