Mihoko Asaka wants to know how candidates in this month's election will create jobs and halt the drastic population decline that is bleeding her home region of youth and vitality, but she has little hope they will offer real solutions.

Like many of his age group, her 25-year-old son left largely rural Akita Prefecture to find work after graduating from college.

"I'm interested to see how much they are listening to the voices from this region," said Asaka, 57, as she waited for a bus in the city of Akita. "But I don't think our voices are being heard. They talk about money being thrown around, but we can't see where it goes."