TOKYO, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japanese voters are expected to decide the future landscape of Japan's politics in a House of Representatives election on Sunday in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is likely to win with low popularity.
The projected victory of Abe's ruling coalition, however, was largely due to the chaos entangling the opposition forces, leading to voters' lack of options while the prime minister himself's popularity remained questionable amid unresolved scandals, multiple polls showed.
Sunday's election pits Abe's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its ruling coalition partner, Komeito, against two newly formed parties, the "reform conservative" Party of Hope and the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ).
Leaders of the parties made their last appeals to voters on the streets on Saturday, the last day before the election, with Abe stressing the nation's economic "achievements" and security concerns, while Yuriko Koike of the Party of Hope and CDPJ leader Yukio Edano calling for breaking Abe's dominance in politics.
Recent polls, however, showed that Abe's dominance might stick for a while, with the LDP and its coalition partner the Komeito party together projected to win some 310 seats, a two-thirds majority in the 465-seat lower house.
The Party of Hope and the CDPJ, meanwhile, were both projected to win around 50 seats, vying for the second largest party in the lower house, according to a recent Kyodo News poll.
The projected victory of the ruling coaltion, however, does not necessarily mean that the prime minister or his policies are popular, multiple polls showed.
An opinion poll by Nikkei, a major Japanese financial newspaper, though also projecting that Abe's ruling coalition would win 300 seats, showed that support rate for the prime minister's cabinet was only 37 percent, overtaken by the disapproval rate of 48 percent.
A different poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper showed that although Abe is expected to win the election, 51 percent of the respondents did not want Abe to remain as prime minister.
Abe has been under fire for his connection with nationalist private school operator Moritomo Gakuen, which purchased a piece of state-owned land in Osaka for only a fraction of the market price.
He has also been accused of using his influence to make the government choose Kake Educational Institution, run by a close friend of Abe's, to open a new department in a government-designated special economic zone.
Political observers have attested that the timing of the snap election was for the prime minister to avoid being grilled in the Diet over the unconcluded scandals while giving opposition parties little time to fully gear up for the election.
"There are basically two conflicts in this election: the conflict between conservative forces led respectively by Abe and Koike, and the conflict between conservative and non-conservative forces," said Professor Liu Di of Kyorin University in Tokyo.
"Since Abe retook office in 2012, he relied largely on conservative forces to carry out populist polices. With economic upswings in the world and the depreciating yen attracting a large amount of foreign tourists, Japanese economy to some extent remained stable," Liu said.
"But while the Abe administration failed to give a direct answer to key issues such as Japan's huge fiscal deficit, conservative forces that want a different choice turned to the Party of Hope," he said.
Yu Uchiyama, a professor of the University of Tokyo, meanwhile, pointed out that voters were discouraged from trusting the new Party of Hope especially after Koike refused to accept the liberal wing of the effectively disbanding Democratic Party, distracting from the party's earlier promise of being tolerant and inclusive.
The party's "relatively empty" policies and not having its own candidate for prime minister, also make it hard for voters to trust it.
The CDPJ, set up only about a couple of weeks ago by former Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano after the Democratic Party split up, was quick to rise after people's initial enthusiasm for the Party of Hope ebbed.
"The conservative Party of Hope with Koike as head tries to break the dominance of Abe administration. But it was obviously not well prepared. As for the non-conservative forces including the CDPJ, the Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party etc., they might take this election as an opportunity to realign," said Liu.
The general election on Sunday is also the first one to be held since the legal voting age was reduced to 18. But with a strong typhoon coming, the voter turnout might suffer a blow.
"With some 40 percent of voters still undecided (in the poll) on which candidate or party to vote for, the projections still have the potential to change in the campaign's last few days," said the Kyodo News.