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Closing the official 12-day campaign period, political party leaders on Saturday made their final appeals before today’s general election for the Lower House.

While the ruling coalition leaders stressed unity and achievements by their tripartite bloc in their speeches, opposition parties called for a change in power.

“Changing of alliances among political parties would adversely affect the general public. Parties must form a coalition based on mutual trust. The opposition force should also present a possible framework of alliance,” Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori said in a speech delivered jointly with the other two coalition leaders in Yokohama.

New Komeito party leader Takenori Kanzaki emphasized that the coalition contributed to the nation posting its first economic growth in three years, while New Conservative Party leader Chikage Ogi attacked the opposition, saying its policies would never succeed as they fail to show viable coalition plans.

Meanwhile, Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, told voters and passersby in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, to choose between continuance of Mori’s administration and a new government centering on his party.

“I want people to stand up and make their voices heard by casting a vote,” Hatoyama said.

Tetsuzo Fuwa, presidium chairman of the Japanese Communist Party, said in Komae, western Tokyo, that the ruling parties’ intention to increase consumption tax is now clear. “The JCP is the only party opposed to a tax increase,” he said.

Ichiro Ozawa, leader of the Liberal Party, said at JR Nakano Station that the election will decide whether people’s lives will be maintained and stabilized in the future.

Social Democratic Party leader Takako Doi canvassed in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, her constituency, seeking support for her party.

“I have been vexed by the party’s minor presence in the Diet. Please increase the SDP’s seats,” she said.

A total of 1,404 candidates, including a record 202 women, are vying for 480 Lower House seats.

Of the total, 1,199 will contest the 300 single seat constituencies while 205 will run solely for the 180 proportional representation seats. Voting was designated to begin at 7 a.m. at about 53,400 polling places across the nation. , and the election results will become clear by 3 a.m. Monday.

Tatsuo Ozawa, leader of the Kaikaku Club, the parliamentary ally of New Komeito, canvassed in Tokorozawa, Saitama Prefecture, later in the day, while Motoo Shiina, head of the Mushozoku no Kai (group of independents) delivered speeches in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture.

Torao Tokuda, chief of Jiyu Rengo, also wooed voters for support in Ibusuki, Kagoshima Prefecture.