Japanese voters will go to the polls on Sunday despite the assassination of former leader Shinzo Abe just two days before elections were due to be held.
Abe was gunned down in broad daylight while delivering a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday before he was later pronounced dead in the hospital. His death has shocked and angered Japan, a nation unaccustomed to gun violence.
- What are the elections for? The electorate will be voting for lawmakers to sit in the upper house of the Diet — Japan's parliament. There are 125 seats up for grabs, according to public broadcaster NHK. The upper house is the less powerful of the two chambers of parliament. Members of the upper house approve legislation, but it can be overridden by the lower house. Members of the 245-seat upper house serve a six-year term, with an election for roughly half the seats every three years.
- What was Abe doing in Nara? At the time of the shooting, Abe was speaking in support of ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) candidates ahead of the election. Despite resigning as Japan's prime minister in 2020 due to health reasons, Abe remained an influential figure in the country's political landscape and continued to campaign for the LDP.
- What has Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said? Kishida said he will continue campaigning on Saturday for the elections, adding that a free and fair vote must be defended at all costs. Speaking on Friday, he paid his "deepest condolences" to Abe, saying he "was a personal friend, with whom I spent a lot of time."
- How is Japan preparing for the elections? Cities across the country of 125 million were gearing up for the vote on Saturday, NHK reported. Video broadcast on NHK showed campaign workers setting up polling stations and organizing venues. There will be 46,000 polling stations across Japan with voting expected to open at 7 a.m. local time on Sunday, NHK reported.