Candidates vying to become prefectural governors in Japan are hitting the streets in their campaigns before elections next month.
It's part of unified local elections that are held across the country every four years. The prefectural and municipal polls this time are considered an opportunity for parties to gain momentum as they prepare for national elections later this year.
On Thursday, eleven prefectures began governor campaign races. Candidates are expected to focus their platforms on how to revitalize local economies as populations decline.
One of the most closely watched races is in Hokkaido. National opposition parties are rallying behind one particular candidate in the hopes of unseating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition.
Osaka is another point of focus. One of the main candidates aims to create an "Osaka metropolis." Under the initiative, Osaka City would be abolished and reorganized into special wards, similar to Tokyo.
On April 7, voters will also elect new prefectural and municipal assemblies. Those campaigns officially begin later this month.