More than 250 people are expected to file their candidacy on Friday for the 127-seat Tokyo metropolitan assembly election later this month, a prelude to the upper house election in July when voters will render their opinion on the government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
At issue is whether voters will show approval of the so-called "Abenomics," a set of policies advocated by the prime minister to pull Japan out of deflation through bolder monetary easing and massive fiscal spending.
To gain momentum heading into the House of Councillors election, the Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Abe, is aiming to come back as the largest force and gain a majority with the New Komeito party in the assembly, now dominated by the Democratic Party of Japan.
The focus is also on how the Japan Restoration Party will fare in the June 23 polls, after co-leader Toru Hashimoto, also serving as Osaka mayor, came under fire for a series of controversial remarks about Japan's wartime system of military brothels.
In the last metropolitan assembly election in 2009, the LDP suffered a crushing defeat that later enabled the DPJ to take power for the first time. Of the 127 seats in the assembly, the DPJ has 43 seats, ahead of 39 for the LDP, and 23 for the New Komeito party. Among other minor parties, the Japanese Communist Party has eight, followed by three for Hashimoto's party, and one for Your Party.
As of Wednesday, 59 candidates are expected to run on the LDP ticket. Forty-four candidates are expected to run for the DPJ and 23 for the New Komeito, while 42 will likely be endorsed by the Japanese Communist Party. From the Japan Restoration Party, 35 will vie for seats, and Your Party will field 22 official candidates.