Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) surged back to power in an election just three years after a devastating defeat, giving ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe.
Exit polls by television broadcasters showed the LDP winning nearly 300 seats in parliament’s powerful 480-member lower house, while its ally, the small New Komeito party looked set to win about 30 seats.
That would give the two parties the two-thirds majority needed to over-rule parliament’s upper house, where no party has a majority and which can block bills, which should help to break a deadlock that has plagued the world’s third biggest economy since 2007.
An LDP win will usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear energy policy despite last year’s Fukushima disaster and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen.
Senior executives of the LDP and the New Komeito party met earlier to confirm they would form a coalition if they get a combined majority, Kyodo news agency reported.
Voters had expressed disappointment with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), which swept to power in 2009 promising to pay more heed to consumers than companies and reduce bureaucrats’ control over policymaking.
Exit polls showed the DPJ, which was hit by defections ahead of the vote, winning only 65 seats, just over a fifth of their tally in 2009.Many voters had said the DPJ failed to meet its election pledges as it struggled to govern and cope with last year’s huge earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, and then pushed through an unpopular sales tax increase with LDP help.
‘‘Nothing has changed for the better,’’ said Masaki Kondo, a 29-year old worker at a securities firm, who voted DPJ three years ago but said he was switching his support to Abe’s partyVoter distaste for both major parties has spawned a clutch of new parties including the right-leaning Japan Restoration Party founded by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
A dozen parties fielded candidates, confusing many voters.
Exit polls showed Hashimoto’s party picking up 46 seats.