Parties go on publicity blitz in Japan

With only limited time before next month's House of Representatives election, political parties are brainstorming publicity tactics to disseminate their pledges and views among the voters.

It will be a short battle over the 23 days until the poll, with the campaign period set to officially kick off on Dec 2 and voting to be held Dec 14.

On Saturday, a day after the lower chamber was dissolved, the parties launched full-fledged preparations for the general election. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is also president of the Liberal Democratic Party, plans to take a leading role in promoting his Abenomics economic policy.

On Saturday, Abe gave three interviews with news media. On Friday, the day of the lower house dissolution, he granted interviews of about 10 minutes each to seven sports newspapers in a row, an unprecedented public relations blitz for the prime minister.

Abe also urged on his Facebook page, "When I make an important change to the tax system, I remain committed to seeking the mandate of voters."

By explaining to the public in his own words, Abe appears to be refuting criticism that his dissolution of the lower chamber lacked justification.

The Democratic Party of Japan will campaign with party President Banri Kaieda and Secretary General Yukio Edano as the faces of the party.

On Friday, Kaieda attended a press conference to unveil the DPJ's poster for the upcoming lower house election. "We made the background colour of the poster red to signify our burning drive to take the offensive in fighting this election battle," he said enthusiastically.

Edano is prepared to take on a proactive role in media affairs. His briefing skills during his term as chief cabinet secretary have been highly praised.

Since the start of this month, Edano has been scheduling interviews with various news media outlets on weekends as well as weekdays. The DPJ looks determined to enhance its media messaging capabilities moving toward the election date.

Among other DPJ members with long political careers and high name recognition, former Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Acting President Katsuya Okada will visit mainly constituencies where competition with the ruling camp is expected to be fierce.

Japan Innovation Party coleader Kenji Eda aims to visit many places across the nation, as his coleader Toru Hashimoto cannot leave Osaka due to his duties as mayor. But sources said Hashimoto himself is considering running in the lower house election.

Some party members voiced high hopes. "Mr. Hashimoto has a high profile, and if he tours nationwide, it will attract more voters," one said.

Komeito leader Natsuo Yamaguchi and other party leaders are also embarking on nationwide campaign tours to seek voter support.

The Party for Future Generations plans to enlist Shintaro Ishihara, the party's highly visible chief adviser. The Japanese Communist Party will have its senior members deliver speeches mainly on the streets to attract more swing voters.

The People's Life Party expects President Ichiro Ozawa to draw on his skills to connect with the public.