Japan Polls: No clear winner seen
Japan must also decide whether it will follow through with plans to phase out nuclear power by 2040 _ a move many in the LDP oppose.
In a sudden turn of events, Noda abruptly said Wednesday in a one-on-one debate with LDP chief Shinzo Abe that he would dissolve parliament Friday if the opposition would agree to key reforms, including shrinking the size of parliament.
Abe, who said his party would go along with the measures, could get a second stab at being prime minister after his one-year stint in 2006-2007 if the LDP wins the most seats in the election.
A staunch nationalist, Abe has taken a strong stance against China in the dispute over a cluster of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan. Abe suddenly quit as prime minister in 2007, citing health problems that he says are no longer an issue.
“The day has finally come. Our battle starts today. Our mission to the people is to win this (election) battle,'' Abe told reporters earlier Friday.
Noda's Democratic Party of Japan won a landslide victory in 2009 elections amid high hopes for change, ousting the conservative, business-friendly LDP, which had ruled Japan nearly continuously since 1955.
But those hopes have been dashed amid widespread disgust with the DPJ's failure to keep campaign promises and the government's handling of the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.
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