Campaigning is intensifying in Japan ahead of Sunday’s upper house elections with Prime Minister’s Shinzo Abe’s ruling Liberal Democrats trailing behind the opposition Democrats. Abe has seen his approval ratings plummet since taking office in September 2006, amid accusations of crisis mishandling from missing pension records to the suicide of one of his ministers. It is a stunning reversal for the Liberal Democratic Party which has ruled Japan nearly uninterrupted for the past 50 years. “The Liberal Democrats have been in power way too long,” said one man. “It no longer works. They raised the tax on health insurance, didn’t they?”. “Abe is still young and lacks decisiveness. He is too young for the position,” said a woman. “He needs more experience, then he would be good at the job.” Half of the upper chamber’s 242 seats are up for grabs. A defeat in the upper house, which plays a mainly ceremonial role, would not immediately threaten the Liberal Democrats, who would retain their grip on the more powerful lower house. However, a total disaster at the ballot box could force Abe to step down – although in the absence of a convincing successor, analysts say that appears unlikely.