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Two by-elections later this month in Hokkaido and Kyoto will pose the first political tests for the newly formed Democratic Party as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition.

In Hokkaido’s No. 5 Lower House electoral district, the area between Chitose Airport and the outskirts of Sapporo, two candidates are vying to replace former Foreign Minister and powerful Liberal Democratic Party veteran Nobutaka Machimura, who died last year.

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