The campaign will officially begin next Tuesday for the October 31 elections, which the ruling PLD is expected to dominate.
Japan is expected to dissolve its parliament on Thursday, paving the way for elections at the end of the month that will pit new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida against unpopular opposition in a battle that is expected to focus primarily on the coronavirus pandemic.
Kishida has enjoyed reasonable public support for about a week, polls say bodes well for his goal of maintaining a majority in the lower house for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its coalition partner the Komeito Party.
Voters will want to see a government with decisive action plans to end the pandemic and rebuild the economy.
A recent poll by the Sankei newspaper showed that around 48% want the Kishida administration to work the most on COVID-19, followed by economic recovery and jobs.
Another NHK poll showed Kishida’s cabinet had an approval rating of 49%, down 13% from its predecessor’s cabinet’s first approval rating in September 2020.
Kishida’s party promotes its efforts for COVID-19 measures, including the provision of oral antiviral drugs this year, as well as its vision of achieving a ‘new capitalism’ focused on economic growth and redistribution wealth.
The ruling party has also called for a sharp increase in defense spending to acquire the capacity to destroy ballistic missiles amid China’s increasingly assertive posture on Taiwan.
Kishida held a telephone meeting with his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Wednesday and reiterated his commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Kishida said he wanted to further develop bilateral ties, calling Japan and the UK as strategic partners globally.
The biggest opposition party, the Constitutional Democrats (CDPJ), led by Yukio Edano, has highlighted issues such as his support for same-sex marriage and different last names for couples.
The LDP remains socially conservative, and while progress has been made on LGBTQ rights in society, Kishida has said he is not in favor of same-sex marriage.
The biggest challenge for Constitutional Democrats is their low support rating.
A recent poll by the daily Asahi Shimbun found that only 13 percent planned to vote for them, far behind the PLD’s 47 percent; most other polls record single digit support.
Canvassing in many districts is already underway, but the campaign will officially begin on October 19, with voting set for October 31.
Kishida took over from the unpopular Yoshihide Suga, who only lasted a year in office.