If Lewis Hamilton wins, or finishes anywhere in the top five, in the Mexico Grand Prix next weekend, he will be champion.
The 32-year-old Briton, who can take the championship if he wins for Mercedes and title rival Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari fails to finish in the top five, claimed his 11th pole of the season with a crushing display of pure speed.
Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas was third fastest ahead of Max Verstappen of Red Bull, Stoffel Vandoorne for McLaren Honda and Felipe Massa of Williams.
As Lewis Hamilton powered to his fourth victory in Japan, Vettel's title hopes suffered a potentially fatal blow with four races left after a nightmare start from the front row.
The Briton, who leads Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel by 34 points with five races left, steered his Mercedes to a track record of one minute, 27.319 seconds with Valtteri Bottas second fastest.
Max Verstappen won by nearly 13 seconds from Hamilton to embellish what has been a tough season after he failed to finish seven races and only once reached the podium.
Sebastian Vettel's world championship hopes suffered a huge blow when his Ferrari failed to set a time in the first qualifying session, meaning he will start last.
Vettel clocked 1min 31.261sec around the 5.543-kilometre circuit on his qualifying simulation run in the second session to smash the old record of 1:32.50 set by Fernando Alonso in 2005.
Ferrari's Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen all went out just after the start of the first wet race in Singapore, which saw three safety cars and finished with only 12 drivers.
Verstappen had looked set to become the first teenager on pole position but Vettel stormed through with two blistering laps in the final session to snatch it by three-tenths.
Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen topped free practice for the Singapore Grand Prix on Friday, as McLaren's move to dump engine supplier Honda triggered a wave of upheaval off the track.
Lewis Hamilton took over as leader of the drivers' world championship for the first time this year on Sunday when he claimed a lights-to-flag victory as Mercedes dominated the Italian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton broke Michael Schumacher's record of all-time pole positions by securing his 69th with a devastating lap in the final seconds of Saturday's rain-hit qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton completed his 200th Grand Prix in victorious style on Sunday when he claimed a much-needed win for Mercedes to trim Sebastian Vettel's championship lead to seven points.
The 68th pole position for Lewis Hamilton drew him level in the record books with seven-time champion Schumacher.
For Raikkonen Tuesday's deal secures his fifth consecutive season with Ferrari after an initial spell at Maranello when he captured the world title in 2007.
In his 50th race for Ferrari, the four-time champion German controlled the contest from pole position in stifling heat to reel off his first win in five races since the Monaco Grand Prix.
Sebastian Vettel took pole position for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in qualifying on Saturday.