Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe Re-Elected – Exit Polls

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been re-elected with a two-thirds majority in a snap ballot, exit polls suggest.

The vote had been portrayed by Mr Abe as a referendum on his plans to revive the world’s third-biggest economy.

The Japanese leader may use his victory to push ahead with tough economic reforms, but with turnout on course for a record low this could weaken his claim of a mandate.

Exit polls shortly after voting finished showed Mr Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party and its junior coalition partner had secured between 328 and 333 of the 475 seats in the lower house.

The result is enough to maintain its “super-majority”, and smooth the way for its policies through parliament.

Speaking on the eve of the election, Mr Abe said: “I have been pushing for Abenomics, the policies designed to create jobs and raise salaries.

“Japan can be much richer.”

But many voters, doubtful over Mr Abe’s plans to generate growth and the opposition’s ability to come up with an alternative, stayed at home.

Hopes for the PM’s strategy suffered a setback after the economy slipped into recession following a sales tax rise in April.

In response, Mr Abe delayed a second tax hike to 10% until 2017, raising concerns about how Japan will curb its huge public debt.

Doubts also remain over Mr Abe’s ability to tackle more politically-sensitive areas of reform, including deregulation of the labour market, and the highly protected farm sector.

Experts say Mr Abe may also use his fresh four-year term to focus on changing Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease limits on the military.

This is likely to cause concern in China and South Korea, where bitter memories of Japan’s past militarism remain raw.

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14 December 2014 | 5:15 pm – Source: orange.co.uk

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