Voting starts in closely watched Tokyo election

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Voting has begun in Tokyo to elect a new assembly in a contest that is being closely watched as an indicator of how Japan's major parties will fare in parliamentary polls next month.

The election will decide 127 seats in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly. Japan's strongest party, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democrats, was expected to take an overall majority with its junior partner, a Buddhist-backed conservative group. Abe, who has focused on strengthening Japan's economy and defense policies, has a high national approval rating.

The election is the biggest vote before the nation goes to the polls on July 21 to elect members of Parliament's upper house. The polls close later Sunday.