TOKYO: The official campaign period began Friday for assembly elections in 41 Japanese prefectures and 17 major cities.
Key campaign issues include child-rearing support, soaring prices and support for regional economies.
Voting is set for April 9 for those elections together with mayoral races in six major cities and gubernatorial polls in nine prefectures.
The number of seats up for grabs in the prefectural assembly elections falls by 17 from the previous polls to 2,260. No assembly elections will take place in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tokyo and Okinawa this time.
The number of candidates is expected to exceed 3,100, up from 3,062 in the previous elections. But the figure is likely to be the second-lowest on record.
Over 20 percent of the candidates are seen to be chosen uncontested. The number of female candidates is likely to hit a record high.
The candidates are expected to include some 1,300 from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 250 from the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, 160 from Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), 170 from Komeito, the LDP’s coalition partner, 190 from the Japanese Communist Party and 50 from the Democratic Party for the People. There will likely be about 880 independents.
Osaka Ishin no Kai, a regional political party, will field at least 50 candidates for the Osaka prefectural assembly election.
The focus of attention is on whether the LDP will secure a majority of the overall seats for the third consecutive time. Another focus is on whether Osaka Ishin will obtain a majority of seats in both the Osaka prefectural and city assemblies.
Some 1,470 people are expected to run in the mayoral assembly races in the 17 major cities against 1,005 seats up for grabs.