TOKYO, July 18 (Reuters) - Japanese government bond prices were steady on Thursday, taking their cues from stronger U.S. debt prices. * JGB prices were underpinned by stronger U.S. Treasuries, whose yields hit their lowest levels in two weeks on Wednesday after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said there was no committed timetable for the U.S. central bank to scale back its bond purchase program. * In its regular operations under its stimulus program, the Bank of Japan offered to buy a total of 700 billion yen ($7.02 billion) of bonds outright, consisting of 200 billion yen with durations of one to three years to maturity, 300 billion yen with three to five years, and another 200 billion yen with 10 years and longer. * The benchmark 10-year yield edged up half a basis point to 0.820 percent after earlier falling to 0.810 percent. It remained in the 0.80 percent and 0.90 percent range where it has traded since late May. * "There's an election this weekend, so some market participants might be waiting for that to be over, before they take new positions," said a fixed-income fund manager at a European asset management firm in Tokyo. "But the election itself is unlikely to present any event risk, so I doubt the market will move much even after it," he added. * Japan's upper house election on Sunday is expected to deliver a victory for the ruling party of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, giving him more support to pursue his aggressively reflationary policies. * The 10-year JGB futures contract ended morning trade nearly flat, up 0.01 point at 143.23 after earlier rising as high as 143.37. * The five-year yield was also flat at 0.290 percent after falling to a fresh five-week low of 0.285 percent, bolstered by solid demand at the previous session's auction of that maturity.