'Messy battle' expected in Japan vote next month: media

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Japan's election next month will be a messy battle, media said Saturday, with more than a dozen parties fielding candidates and some of them trying to forge a "third pole" between the two largest camps. Yoshihiko Noda, Japan's sixth new prime minister in as many years, dissolved the lower house of parliament Friday in a political gamble widely expected to strip his centre-left party of power. Having had almost two-thirds of the 480 lower house seats when they came to power in 2009, Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had lost its majority by Friday morning as a number of lawmakers jumped ship as the vote nears. Observers say no single party will have the numbers to govern alone after the election. Commenting on the party's performance in power, the liberal Mainichi Shimbun daily said in its editorial that the DPJ "must realise how strong the public disappointment has been after expectations that were quite high". But the leading Asahi Shimbun newspaper also said the leading opposition centre-right Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) would not have an easy path ahead. "The economy has been further globalised, and the state's fiscal condition remains severe," it said. "No matter which party comes to power, it won't have many options but imposing pain on the people." Octogenarian former Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara, who created his Party of the Sun this week, is forging a "third pole" with Osaka mayor Toru Hashimoto, the sharp-witted leader of the newly-launched Japan Restoration Party. The "third pole" is "aiming to gather popularity among voters dissatisfied with established political parties," the conservative Yomiuri daily said. "Voters need to figure out its real ability." Voting will take place on December 16.

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