Nippon Ishin no Kai’s hopes of becoming Japan’s largest opposition party after the next general election took a hit following last month’s losses in two by-elections and a mayoral campaign in its home base of Osaka.

With speculation continuing that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida might call a snap election soon, the party finds itself still struggling to distinguish itself among voters as a viable national opposition force outside Osaka and the wider Kansai region.

Next year’s Expo in Osaka and along with it the need for financial assistance and cooperation from the central government could also make it difficult for Nippon Ishin candidates to criticize the ruling Liberal Democratic Party too hard.