Official campaigning for a series of local elections started across Japan on Thursday, with the results likely to determine whether Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will decide to dissolve the Lower House for a snap general election amid sluggish support ratings.

Incumbents and newcomers filed their candidacies for gubernatorial elections in nine prefectures, scheduled for April 9, as part of the first round of a series of local elections.

Mayoral races in six major cities, alongside local assembly elections in 41 prefectures and 17 big cities, are slated to be held on the same day, with campaigning set to begin later this month.