1. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe addressing crowd during election campaign
2. UPSOUND (Japanese) Shinzo Abe, Japanese Prime Minister :
"I cannot just be satisfied with the success (of reforms) alone. I need your support to push forward the reform. I cannot lose this election."
3. Wide of people waving Japanese flags
4. Abe shaking hands with supporters
Tokyo - 11 April 2007
5. Wide, zoom in of Abe shaking hands with Wen Jiabao, Chinese Prime Minister
Tokyo - 7 March 2007
7. Protest by women who say they were used as sex slaves
8. Close of photo on banner
9. Various of protest
Tokyo - 26 July 2007
10. Set up shot of Kazuhisa Kawakami, Professor in Politics, Meijigakuin University
11. SOUNDBITE (Japanese): Kazuhisa Kawakami, Professor in Politics, Meijigakuin University:
"The reform pushed by (former Prime Minister Junichiro) Koizumi and his successor Abe brought in economic growth and deregulation. However, the reform also cut off the social weaklings, while creating so many wealthy people. Japan had been under the convoy system (the system where the government protects private companies) and kept certain degree of social equality by doing so. But, now (with this reform), the people of Japan are worrying about such social disparity."
Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture - 26 March 2007
12. Various of Naoto Kan, acting representative, Democratic Party of Japan, Japan's biggest opposition party campaigning talking to crowd
Japanese politicians travelled to the far corners of the country on Friday amid intensifying campaigning for Sunday's upper house elections, with polls showing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling party may be regaining some ground but is still trailing the opposition.
Abe, the first Japanese prime minister born after World War II, has put changing the way Japan views its wartime history front-and-centre ahead of a major parliamentary election this weekend.
Heading into Sunday's upper house elections, Abe is stressing a "Beautiful Japan" platform of promoting patriotism, overhauling the constitution so that the military can play a bigger role abroad and revising school textbooks - critics would say whitewashing history - to bolster national pride.
But his avowedly nationalist stance doesn't seem to be swaying voters, who seem more focused on scandals in his Cabinet and a perceived lack of leadership.
His support rating, which once stood at 70 percent, has plummeted to around 30 percent.
Abe himself is not up for re-election on Sunday, but polls suggest his party could suffer a major setback.
Abe is still reeling over anger from comments he made regarding "comfort women," the euphemism for forced prostitution during World War II.
He found himself in a firestorm - at home and abroad - after saying there was no proof Japan's government had coerced any of the women into prostitution.
Historians say as many as 200-thousand women, mainly from Korea, China and the Philippines, worked in Japanese military brothels in the 1930s and '40s.
Many victims say they were forced to work as sex slaves by military authorities and were held against their will.
A resolution in the US Congress called on Japan to apologise for its use of prostitutes on the front lines during World War II.
Abe retorted that the resolution was "not based on fact."
Wartime issues still define relations between China and Japan, but a visit by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Japan in April helped ease differences.
So far, Abe also faces Japanese peoples' anger over problems with the national pension system, questionable use of public funds for private offices by Cabinet members and a widening gap between the rich and poor.
"The reform pushed by (former Prime Minister Junichiro) Koizumi and succeeded by Abe brought in economic growth and deregulation. However, the reform also cut off the social weaklings, while creating so many wealthy people," said Professor Kazuhisa Kawakami from Meijigakuin University on Friday.
Half of the upper chamber's 242 seats are up for grabs in Sunday's vote.
Abe's party and coalition partner the New Komei Party need 64 seats to maintain their upper house majority.
The ruling bloc currently controls the chamber with a combined 132 seats.
A loss wouldn't immediately threaten LDP rule.
The upper house is largely ceremonial, and the ruling party would retain its iron grip on the lower house, which chooses the prime minister.
LDP officials said this week they would keep Abe in place no matter what happens.
But a total disaster at the ballot box - such as a failure to win at least 40 seats - could sap support for Abe and force him to step down.