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Thursday, Dec. 6, 2012
DPJ, LDP clash in 255 single-seat constituencies
The Democratic Party of Japan and Liberal Democratic Party are competing in 255 of 300 single-seat constituencies in the Dec. 16 general election.
At least one of the so-called third-force parties — Nippon Mirai no To (Tomorrow Party of Japan), Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and Your Party — has fielded candidates in 229 constituencies for the Lower House poll.
Of the 229, candidates from at least two of the parties are running in 86 constituencies, raising the possibility of splitting the vote and blunting their chances of creating a viable third force to rival the DPJ and the LDP.
The top two parties and the Japanese Communist Party, which has fielded candidates in 299 constituencies, are competing in 255 constituencies.
Candidates from at least one of the third-force parties plus the DPJ, the LDP and the JCP are registered in 203 constituencies.
The LDP did not field candidates in nine constituencies where New Komeito has candidates.
Campaigning by candidates for the Lower House started Tuesday, but the third-force parties have failed to unite due to policy differences.
All three third-force parties will compete in 12 constituencies mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area, such as the No. 5 constituency in Chiba Prefecture and the No. 5 district in Kanagawa Prefecture.
In the No. 16 constituency in Tokyo, two former DPJ lawmakers who left the party are now candidates for Nippon Mirai and Nippon Ishin. New faces from Your Party, the DPJ and the LDP are also registered as candidates for the district.
The strongest rivalry among third-force parties is between Nippon Ishin, founded by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and now headed by former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara, and Nippon Mirai, launched by Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada. Both are competing in 47 constituencies.
Nippon Mirai had limited room to position its candidates as many of its members already have their own constituencies after bolting from the DPJ to join Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People's Life First), a party launched in July by former DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa that merged with Kada's party.
Meanwhile, Nippon Ishin has aggressively fielded candidates as it initially targeted a Lower House majority.
Vote-value disparities between constituencies have widened since the previous election three years ago, according to government data released Tuesday.
The Supreme Court in March last year ruled the vote-value disparities in the 2009 House of Representatives election were "in a state of unconstitutionality."
As of Monday, there were 497,601 voters in a single-seat constituency in Chiba Prefecture, the largest number in the country and 2.43 times larger than the smallest number, 204,930 in a constituency in Kochi Prefecture, according to the internal affairs ministry.
The maximum vote-value disparity was 2.30 times in the 2009 election.
Last month, the Diet enacted a bill to reduce the number of Lower House constituencies by five in an effort to correct the imbalance, but it was too late to introduce new constituencies in the upcoming election.