Official campaigning for Japan’s general election kicked off Tuesday with the main opposition party leading in voter support. But the crowded race is likely to result in a coalition government plagued again by gridlock and policy stagnation. A record number of parties—12 in total—are expected to register more than 1,400 candidates to compete for the 480 seats in the lower house. The leaders of the two main parties—Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and main opposition leader Shinzo Abe—both hit the campaign trail starting in Fukushima prefecture, highlighting the region’s significance in the wake of the March 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis.
Under freezing rain Tuesday, Mr. Noda told Fukushima voters, “What is being questioned is whether we move forward to do what needs to be done, or return to the old way of politics”—a reference to the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which had governed virtually uninterrupted for a nearly half a century before Mr. Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan won power in 2009.
Speaking in the coastal city of Iwaki, whose proximity to the Fukushima nuclear reactors has wrecked the local fishing industry, Mr. Noda emphasized his party’s platform pledge to phase out nuclear energy by 2040.
About 100 kilometers away, LDP chief Mr. Abe declared that his party and its junior coalition party aim to win a combined majority—more ambitious than the DPJ’s goal of gaining the “most seats.”
But experts say that the LDP’s lead over the ruling DPJ in the polls—less than 10 percentage points in most surveys—isn’t enough to secure a clear majority.
Full Article: Japan Election Draws Record Number of Parties – WSJ.com.