Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) and the Liberal Democratic Party are expected to go head-to-head to secure the most seats in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election on July 4.
In the previous poll in 2017, the LDP suffered a historic rout as Tomin First, a regional party launched by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, captured the most seats in the capital's assembly.
The focal point of the upcoming poll, closely watched as a prelude to a national election, is whether Tomin First will remain the leading force or the LDP will reclaim the title.
If the LDP and Komeito, which make up the ruling coalition in national politics, win a majority in the 127-seat assembly, the election outcome would affect Koike's policies.
As of Saturday, the number of planned official candidates for the upcoming election stood at 45 for Tomin First, 59 for the LDP, 23 for Komeito, 29 for the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) and 27 for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP).
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party), the Democratic Party for the People (DPP) and Reiwa Shinsengumi also plan to field candidates.
At present, Tomin First has 46 seats, the LDP 25, Komeito 23, the JCP 18 and the CDP seven. The DPP and Reiwa Shinsengumi have none.
Over 200 candidates, including independents, are currently expected to run. The total is expected to rise further.
A senior Tomin First official said the party is planning to put up around 50 candidates in the election, about the same number as it endorsed in the previous vote.
Some members, however, have left the party, complaining about party management and other problems.
In the 2017 election, Tomin First allied with Komeito, but their relations have since deteriorated.
Another concern of Tomin First is that many in the party are first-time assembly members with little election experience.
Four years ago, the LDP put up 60 candidates and gained a record-low 23 seats.
But the party has patched up its relations with Komeito. The two have agreed to work together in the upcoming election in hopes of regaining control of the assembly.
Komeito aims to have all of its candidates win seats for the eighth consecutive Tokyo assembly election.
The JCP and the CDP are adjusting candidates in constituencies with one or two seats to prevent a joint failure.
Nippon Ishin have decided to field nine candidates.
If the Tokyo poll precedes the election for the House of Representatives, which has to happen by autumn, its outcome would likely affect Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's plans to dissolve the all-important lower chamber of the Diet.
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