Candidates are making final impassioned appeals to voters before parliamentary elections Sunday that are likely to hand power back to a conservative party that ruled Japan for most of the post-war era.
Polls suggest that voters will dump the ruling Democratic Party of Japan three years after it swept to power and give the most seats in the 480-member lower chamber to the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which ruled Japan for decades.
That would give the hawkish Shinzo Abe, who was prime minister from 2006-2007, the top job again - raising concerns about ties with rival China amid a territorial dispute.
But the emergence of several new parties has confused some voters, and polls show that about 40 percent of people are yet undecided.
In this Dec. 9, 2012 photo, Japan Restoration Party leaders, Shintaro Ishihara, center, and Toru Hashimoto, left, wave at their party supporters during their parliamentary elections campaign in Tokyo. The buzz over Japan’s parliamentary elections this Sunday, Dec. 16, has been all about “the third force” - a clear sign of the prevailing disenchantment over both the party that ruled for decades after World War II and the rival party that took over in 2009. The new party with the most momentum, and one that could be part of the coalition government, is the Japan Restoration Party, led by former Tokyo Gov. Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Hashimoto, pushing for a more assertive Japan and capable of flexing its military muscle in territorial disputes with China. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, FRANCE, HONG KONG, JAPAN AND SOUTH KOREA