The Dec. 14 Lower House election was many things. But in terms of domestic politics, it was merely a prelude to something far more important: the nationwide local elections next April.

Even as debate continues about whether the election weakened Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, strengthened coalition partner Komeito, showed Ishin no To (Japan Innovation Party) could still garner support, reinvigorated the Japanese Communist Party or sounded the death knell for extreme right-wing parties and politicians, all eyes have turned to April 12 and 26, 2015, when nearly 1,000 local governments, from prefectural assemblies to small villages, hold elections for governor, mayor and their legislative bodies.

National-level politicians have had their eye on the April elections for a while now.