While they still show a large number of undecided voters, the Japanese public opinion polls concur that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, is on course to win December 16 elections.
The current governing party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), is expected to lose over 60% of the seats that currently holds. If the current trends hold up the LDP will win a majority in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Japanese diet.
The Japan Restoration Party is battling the DPJ for the second-place finish. While the number of undecideds is quite high, the LDP poll position not only reflects dissatisfaction with the DPJ, but also fears of parliamentary deadlock where the maverick restoration party would play the arbiter.
While the territorial dispute with China has bolstered Japanese nationalism, the LDP's collective security approach represents a more incremental change to Japan's defense policy than what the restoration party has in mind.
The LDP is talking about strengthening the alliance with the United States, while restoration combines fears of the Chinese with a latent suspicion of the Americans. One of the Restoration Party's leaders Shintaro Ishihara is in favor of Japan going nuclear.
The LDP and Restoration agree on the need for constitutional revision that would water down some of the pacifist limitations imposed by the Americans after the Second World War. Such changes are opposed by the Socialists and the Communists, but these are now marginal parties and therefore the main barrier to constitutional revision is the need to muster a two thirds majority.
On the other hand, Restoration is closer to DPJ on the nuclear power issue and would close down nuclear power stations. The LDP is considered closer to the nuclear power lobby and to business circles that fear that a precipitous abandonment of nuclear power before an alternative has kicked in could cripple Japanese industry.
This could produce an ironic situation where the Japanese voters who, in their majority, are opposed to nuclear power will still vote in a party in favor of retaining it.