Japan PM Abe on track for big election win

Japan PM Abe on track for big election win”

Japan's Prime Minister and President of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party Shinzo Abe delivers a speech to the crowd in support for his party's candidate during an election campaign for the upcoming lower house election in Tokyo.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc was headed for a big win in Sunday's election, exit polls showed, bolstering his clout and potentially re-energising a push towards his cherished goal of revising the post-war, pacifist constitution. It also means his "Abenomics" growth strategy centred on the hyper-easy monetary policy will likely continue. Others either stayed home or backed opposition parties. Complete results may not be tallied until Monday.

A victory in the snap election will likely ensure Abe receives another three-year term as head of the LDP coalition next year, making him Japan's longest serving leader.

As the projections for a clear victory came in, the LDP's policy chief Fumio Kishida confidently said on Japan's national broadcaster NHK: "We fought this election with Prime Minister Abe leading us and we won backing from lots of voters". Up for grabs are 465 seats in the more powerful chamber, which chooses the prime minister.

Analysts saw Abe's move as an attempt to solidify his political standing at a time when the opposition was in disarray and his support ratings had improved somewhat.

The opposition, divided between Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike's Party of Hope, and the new leftist Constitutional Democratic Party, were projected to win a total of 50-60 seats each, analysis based on Kyodo's figures suggested.

NHK projected that her Party of Hope would win just 38 to 59 seats. She said some of her remarks might have been taken negatively by voters, and that she would take the blame.

Media projections indicate a disappointing showing for a new Japanese opposition party that briefly excited voters. The constitutional Democrats are liberal-leaning, while both the Party of Hope and Abe's Liberal Democratic Party are more conservative.

Earlier this year, Abe set a deadline to revise the constitution by 2020 to mark its 70th anniversary.

The LDP's junior partner, the Komeito, is cautious about changing the constitution, drawn up after Japan's defeat in World War Two. The charter renounces the use of force in worldwide conflicts and limits Japan's troops to self-defence, although Japan has a well-equipped modern military that works closely with the U.S. Polls indicate that the Japanese public remains opposed to amendment. Abe will need two-thirds of the country's upper house of Parliament on his side, then the measure must be approved in a referendum.

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