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Japan election: Voters back Abe's coalition as PM wins new term


Tokyo (Dec. 14, 2014): Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's coalition cruised to a big election win on Sunday, ensuring he will stick to reflationary economic policies and a muscular security stance, but record low turnout pointed to broad dissatisfaction with his performance.

NHK public TV said Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and junior partner the Komeito party were assured more than the 317 seats in the 475-member lower house required to maintain a two-thirds "super-majority" that smoothes parliamentary business.

But the LDP was set to fall slightly short of the 295 it held before the poll, NHK figures showed.

"I believe the public approved of two years of our 'Abenomics' policies," Abe said in a televised interview. "But that doesn't mean we can be complacent."

Many voters, doubtful of both the premier's "Abenomics" strategy to end deflation and generate growth and the opposition's ability to do any better, stayed at home.

Final turnout will be a record low of 52.4 percent, media forecast, below 59.3 percent in a 2012 poll that returned Abe to power for a rare second term on pledges to reboot an economy plagued by deflation and an aging, shrinking population.

Market analysts said the widely expected outcome would be positive for shares and negative for the yen in the near term given expectations Abe will stick to a "Three Arrows" strategy of hyper-easy monetary policy, government spending and reforms.

"Since the Abe administration puts emphasis on share prices, short-term, this will be a tailwind for higher stocks and a weaker yen," said Tsuyoshi Ueno, senior economist at NLI Research Institute.

"But medium-term, investors will be watching to see if Japan is changed structurally."

Doubts persist over whether Abe will knuckle down on his "Third Arrow" of reforms in politically sensitive areas such as labor market deregulation and an overhaul of the highly protected farm sector.

Progress has been limited so far, partly due to opposition from members of Abe's own party.