THE DISCUSSION: The dozen parties vying in a Dec. 16 election agree that the world's third-largest economy needs help after sliding back into recession for the fifth time in 15 years. But they are at odds over how to achieve enduring growth.
THE BACKGROUND: More than 20 years after its "miracle economy" bubble burst, Japan is trapped in a vicious circle of declining prices and demand. Sluggish growth prompts businesses to cut prices, while consumers cut spending.
THE POLITICS: The election winner will provide Japan's seventh prime minister in seven years. The constant government changes have stymied needed tax and labor reforms.
- Politics & Government