A total of 656 candidates are preparing to run in the next election for the House of Representatives, amid speculation that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe may dissolve the chamber for a snap election early next year, a survey by Jiji Press released Sunday showed.

The term of office for members of the Lower House expires on Oct. 21, 2021. The chamber has 289 seats from single-seat constituencies and 176 seats from proportional representation.

Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party aims to secure at least two-thirds of the seats for LDP members and others supportive of his plan to amend the Constitution. A two-thirds majority is necessary to propose a constitutional amendment for approval in a national referendum.

From the LDP, 298 members plan to run in the election, including 275 for the single-seat districts. The party has no plans to compete in nine constituencies where candidates from its coalition partner Komeito are set to run.

There are 249 prospective candidates from four major opposition parties — the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the Democratic Party for the People, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party — and independents.

There are no prospective candidates from the major opposition parties in nearly 30 percent of the single-seat constituencies, mainly in the Tohoku and Kyushu regions.

The CDP and the DPP, which are in merger talks, plan to unify their candidates to better compete with the LDP. The JCP is expected to join them in the effort.

From Nippon Ishin no Kai, 28 people plan to run. Reiwa Shinsengumi, a new political group, plans to field about 100 candidates after winning two seats in July’s House of Councilors election.

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