Japanese are voting in a nationwide election for the upper house that may cement the prime minister's grip on power as he forges ahead with policies to encourage exports and easy lending to keep a shaky economic growth going.

Half the seats in parliament's less powerful upper house are up for grabs in Sunday's balloting. There is no likelihood of a change of power. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party controls the lower house, which chooses the prime minister.

Abe had repeatedly stressed during his campaign that his "Abenomics" program to bolster growth is still unfinished, and patience is needed for results. He has not touched on the other part of his agenda, which is to have Japan assert itself more as a military power.