Tokyo: Japan voted on Sunday in an election expected to return the conservative Liberal Democratic Party to power after a three-year hiatus, giving ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe. Polls opened at 0700 am (2200 GMT) and will close at 8 pm (1100 GMT), when major TV broadcasters will issue exit polls forecasting results.
An LDP win would usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear power energy policy despite last year's Fukushima disaster and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen. Media surveys have forecast the LDP will win a big majority in parliament's powerful 480-seat lower house, just three years after a devastating defeat that ended more than 50 years of almost non-stop rule by the business-friendly party.
Together with a small ally, Abe's LDP could even gain the two-thirds majority needed to break through a policy deadlock that has plagued successive governments for half a decade. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular Democratic Party of Japan, hit by a stream of defections, is likely to win fewer than 100 seats, less than a third of its tally in 2009.
Voters feel the DPJ failed to deliver its 2009 election pledges. "Whether it's relations with South Korea, problems with North Korea or trouble with China, on every front the Democratic Party's diplomacy has gone
11:44 AM, Dec 16, 2012