A total of 1,021 people were planning to run in the Oct. 22 general election as of Thursday, according to a Jiji Press survey taken after the dissolution of the House of Representatives the same day.
For the election, the Lower House will see the number of seats reduced to 465 from 475, the least since the end of the war, based on the revised Public Offices Election Law that took effect earlier this year.
The revision is designed to reduce the vote-value disparities between single-seat constituencies, a phenomena that has sparked legal challenges to election results for the past several years.
The number of single-seat constituency seats will fall by six to 289, while proportional representation seats will fall by four to 176.
The number of candidates is expected to climb.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike’s new party, Kibo no To (Party of Hope), is set to effectively absorb members of the Democratic Party as it rushes to select candidates before the official campaign period starts on Oct. 10.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who doubles as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, criticized the DP’s surprise decision to merge with Kibo no To, which was set up this week with Koike at the helm.
“I’m very surprised that they plan to get together without discussing policies,” Abe told reporters.
“I’m aiming to bring together reformists in national politics,” Koike told a news conference at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.
A key focus is whether Koike herself will run in the election. The view is growing among the ruling and opposition parties that Koike will run, forcing her to resign as governor of the capital.
According to the poll, 919 people will run in constituencies and 102 others under proportional representation.
By party, 293 people will run on the LDP’s ticket and 36 on ally Komeito’s.
The ruling coalition held 320 seats at the time of the chamber’s dissolution on Thursday. Abe has drawn the ruling bloc’s win-or-lose line at a simple majority of 233.
In the opposition camp, 281 people said they would run with the Japanese Communist Party, 49 with Nippon Ishin no Kai, 17 with the Social Democratic Party and 11 with Kibo no To.
From the DP, 214 had been preparing to run before the DP decided to effectively merge with Koike’s party and DP leader Seiji Maehara announced it would not officially endorse any candidate. He said members would be asked to seek Kibo no To’s endorsement instead, but some are expected to run as independents.
The Liberal Party’s nine candidates will also try to join Koike’s party.
For her part, Koike has said Kibo no To will screen the candidates by examining their stances on security and other policies. She has said she is eager to field more than 100 candidates throughout the country.
The JCP is fiercely protesting the DP’s move to unite with Koike’s party because it had been putting priority on collaborating with the DP and other opposition parties for the election, rather than its own policies.
JCP leader Kazuo Shii said Thursday that his party will field candidates in constituencies that Koike’s party is targeting.