- Title: JAPAN: Candidates make final pitch on eve of Japan election.
- Date: 30th August 2009
- Summary: KAMAKURA, JAPAN (AUGUST 29, 2009) (REUTERS) KAMAKURA STATION (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 54-YEAR-OLD BUSINESSMAN, CHIKAO KISHI, SAYING: "The focus of this election is the change of power, but I think it's dangerous to vote for the DPJ just because there's a favorable wind blowing for them." (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 25-YEAR-OLD CIVIL-SERVICE WORKER, TAKAHIKO AKAHORI, SAYING "I want the government to change, but after listening to what the DPJ had to say, I'm a little skeptical." PEOPLE WALKING DOWN THE STREET (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) 55-YEAR-OLD HOUSEWIFE, YASUKO KOBAYASHI, SAYING: "I don't think Aso is speaking from his heart so I don't have hopes for him." PEOPLE WALKING
- Embargoed: 14th September 2009 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVABAT53GROY5N2LAC96UGYTZOW1
- Story Text: Prime Minister Taro Aso and favoured opposition party leader Yukio Hatoyama make their final pleas in the general election.
Candidates across Japan made their final pitch on Saturday (August 29) on the eve of an election the opposition looks set to win, giving the untested Democrats the job of tackling record unemployment and a fast-ageing society.
Media surveys have shown the Democratic Party of Japan is on track for a huge win over Prime Minister Taro Aso's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has ruled the country for all but 10 months since its founding in 1955.
A clear Democratic Party win in the lower house election would break a deadlock in parliament, where the party and its allies have controlled the less powerful upper chamber since 2007, allowing them to delay legislation.
Candidates for the main parties were out in force in Tokyo, pressing their message to voters at railway stations as the party leaders stumped campaign grounds outside the capital.
"I beg you to give power to the LDP so we can by our own very hands complete the recovery that is still only half-way there and offer you a full recovery that everyone can actually feel," Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso told a large crowd outside the ancient Japanese capital of Kamakura on the outskirts of Tokyo.
"I plan to fight to the bitter end today. Thanks everyone," he vowed as some in the crowds cried out in support for the Prime Minister.
For many voters, the biggest issues are the struggling economy and the country's aging and shrinking population.
Japan is currently the world's 10th-largest country in terms of population, with more than 127 million people. By 2050 it is forecast to rank 18th with 93.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Japan is also greying more quickly than any other developed country, inflating social security costs. More than a quarter of Japanese will be 65 or over by 2015.
The Democrats have promised to focus spending on households and wrest control of policy from the hands of bureaucrats.
"I vouch that the Democratic Party change politics in a way that people will be able to say: 'Japan's politics really changed on August 30th, 2009'," Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the Democratic Party told the gathered crowd in the western Japanese city of Osaka.
Analysts have cautioned that voter anger at the LDP is more due to scandals and a perceived inability to solve Japan's deep problems rather than enthusiasm for the decade-old Democrats.
Indeed on the streets of Kamakura, most people Reuters spoke too seemed still undecided over both candidates' party.
"The focus of this election is the change of power, but I think it's dangerous to vote for the DPJ just because there's a favorable wind blowing for them," Chikao Kishi, 54 year-old tourist from Kyoto who happened to pass by Kamakura station as the Prime Minister made his speech.
"I want the government to change, but after listening to what the DPJ had to say, I'm a little skeptical," said Takahiko Akahori, a 25 year-old resident of Tokyo visiting the ancient city popular as a day-trip destination for people in neighbouring cities.
"I don't think Aso is speaking from his heart so I don't have hopes for him," said Yasuko Kobayashi, a 55 year-old housewife after having listened to the Prime Minister's twenty minute speech.
Financial markets would welcome an end to the deadlock in parliament but the Democrats' spending plans and vow to keep the sales tax at 5 percent for the next four years have raised concerns that Japan's already huge public debt will grow further.
Some Japanese newspapers have said the Democrats are likely to win a two-thirds majority in the 480-member lower house.
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