Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc was headed for a big win in Sunday’s election, bolstering his chance of becoming the nation’s longest serving premier and reenergizing his push to revise the pacifist constitution.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition was set to win 311 seats, keeping its two-thirds “super majority” in the 465-member lower house, an exit poll by TBS television showed. Public broadcaster NHK also said the ruling bloc was closing in on a two-thirds majority, although some other broadcasters had the ruling bloc slightly below the two-thirds mark.
A hefty win raises the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012, will have a third three-year term as LDP leader next September and go on to become Japan’s longest-serving premier. It also means his “Abenomics” growth strategy centered on the hyper-easy monetary policy will likely continue.
Abe had said he needed a new mandate to tackle a “national crisis” from North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats and a fast-aging population, and to approve his idea of diverting revenue from a planned sales tax hike to education and child care from public debt repayment.
Kyodo news agency estimated turnout on Sunday – when heavy rain from powerful Typhoon Lan lashed much of Japan – at 53.7 percent, one point above the record low in the last lower house election in 2014.