Japan elections 2014: Shinzo Abe re-elected in low turnout polls
PM Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition has won a new two-thirds majority in Japan’s parliamentary elections seen as a referendum on his economic policy.
Japanese media reported that Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) retained its House of Representatives majority.
The LDP will govern with the Buddhist-backed Komeito party after the parties won 325 seats out of 475.
Shinzo Abe called the snap vote to secure support for his “Abenomics” economic reforms.
The LDP had won 290 seats, with Komeito taking 35, public broadcaster NHK said.
The main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, won 73 seats, an increase of 11, NHK said.
Shinzo Abe was elected in 2012 and has tried to revive the economy by raising public spending and printing money.
After an initial burst of growth, Japan slipped back into recession in the second half of this year, which many economists have blamed, at least in part, on an increase in sales tax, from 5% to 8% in April.
The tax increase was legislated by the previous government in 2012 to curb Japan’s huge public debt, which is the highest among developed nations.
Shinzo Abe says he called the election to get a mandate to delay a second increase in the tax to 10%, scheduled for 2015.
“My <<Abenomics>> policies are still only half-way done,” he said on Decemebr 14, adding that his government would not become “complacent”.
“I am aware that there are still a lot of people who are still not feeling the benefits. But it’s my duty to bring [benefits] to those very people, and I believe this election made that clear.”
Japan is the third-largest economy in the world, according to the World Bank, but it has struggled in recent years.
Voters were choosing who sits in the 475-seat lower house of Japan’s parliament, the Diet.
Reports said turnout at polling stations was low due to voter apathy and heavy snowfall in parts of the country. The government said turnout was at just 35%, two hours before polls closed.
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