Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is poised to dissolve Japan's parliament, setting the stage for elections next month that will likely end the ruling Democrats' three years in power.
Polls suggest that the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which led Japan for most of the post-World War II era, would win the most seats in the 480-seat lower house, but far short of a majority.
It is likely that no party will emerge as a clear winner in the lower house election and the party would have to form a coalition to govern. Reports say polls would be set for Dec. 16.
Noda abruptly said Wednesday he would dissolve parliament on Friday if the opposition would agree to key reforms, including shrinking the size of parliament.