• Kyodo

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Official campaigning began Tuesday for a Lower House by-election April 27 in Kagoshima Prefecture, the first national-level election since the consumption tax hike took effect earlier this month.

The race, which six candidates entered in the morning, is expected to center on a battle between a Liberal Democratic Party candidate and an independent backed by the Democratic Party of Japan and three other opposition parties.

The Lower House seat for the Kagoshima No. 2 constituency was vacated in February by former LDP member Takeshi Tokuda in the wake of his family members’ involvement in a money scandal linked to his 2012 election campaign.

Masuo Kaneko, 67, a former Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly chairman, filed his candidacy from the LDP, while his major rival is former DPJ Lower House member Akashi Uchikoshi, 56.

Hoping to highlight positive effects of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies and ward off criticism against the April 1 consumption tax hike from 5 percent to 8 percent, the LDP is arranging for Abe as party chief to visit the district Saturday for a pep talk.

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