Japan candidates on the campaign trail
Hundreds of candidates vying for a seat in Japan's parliament made their final pitches to voters on Saturday, ahead of an election expected to see the return of the country's old guard.
Opinion polls show the Liberal Democratic Party on course for a convincing victory in Sunday's lower house election, with the Democratic Party of Japan led by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda set to be ousted.
Hawkish LDP leader Shinzo Abe is predicted to return to the premiership, a job he held without much distinction in 2006-7, in a move that may herald a hardening of Japan's foreign policy at a time of heightened tensions with China, reports AFP.
As light rain fell over Tokyo, some of the more than 1,500 candidates running in the poll stood before train stations to make final pleas to voters, while their staff held banners with the candidates' names and parties printed in bold typeface.
Noda urged voters not to return to the LDP, which governed Japan almost continuously for more than five decades before his party came to power three years ago.
He criticised the LDP's spending plans, such as a promise to fund huge public works in order to spur growth, despite a tight government budget.
"The election is about whether we can move forward or turn back the clock," he said at a train station near central Tokyo, according to the Sankei Shimbun newspaper.
Abe, in Wako-city, Saitama prefecture, north of the capital, pledged to restore Japan's economy and education system.