SAPPORO — The winds of change are blowing nationwide as the Lower House election nears.

The long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party is waging a struggling campaign at the expense of the front-running Democratic Party of Japan.

A key showdown is expected in Hokkaido and its 12 constituencies, where three LDP heavyweights are running in single-seat districts, as is DPJ leader Yukio Hatoyama, in the Hokkaido No. 9 district.