A coalition led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is set to win by landslide in the country’s snap parliamentary elections.
A projection published by private broadcaster TBS said the LDP-led conservative coalition would win 311 seats in Japan
’s 465-seat parliament.
Abe’s main rival, the new center-left Constitutional Democratic Party, was on track to win 58 seats while the Party of Hope, led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, trailed behind with around 50 seats, the projection said.
Abe called election a year earlier than expected in a bid to solidify his mandate in dealing with a belligerent North Korea and to shore up the world’s third largest economy.
Millions turned out to vote on Sunday, braving torrential rains and driving winds, which have soaked Japan for the past days.
Japan’s Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader, Shinzo Abe, puts rosettes by successful general election candidates’ names on a board at the party headquarters in Tokyo on October 22, 2017. (AFP photo)
Local media said results of the vote would be a landslide for Abe as he seeks to strengthen his position in the parliament. However, it was not clear from the vote projections whether the LDP-led coalition could retain its majority of 310 seats in the parliament. Such “super-majority” would give Abe the desired power to push ahead with changes in Japan’s pacifist constitution. Under increasing pressure from the United States, Japan’s main military ally, Abe has been seeking a more aggressive role for the Japanese armed forces when it comes to dealing with alleged threats from countries like North Korea and China.
North Korea fired two missiles over Japan in an interval of a month recently, prompting Abe to revisit his government’s military strategy in the face of Pyongyang’s growing threats. North Korea has been locked in a major standoff with the US since July and has warned that Japan would be an easy target for its long-range missiles should a confrontation erupts.
However, critics fear Abe’s move to increase Japan’s military spending would undermine the country’s efforts to spur economic growth. They say Abe has capitalized on nationalist sentiments against North Korea to advance his policies.