Japan heads to polls as change expected

Voters in Japan went to the polls on Sunday in an election likely to return long-ruling conservatives to power after three years in the wilderness.

Polling stations opened at 7:00 am (2200 GMT Saturday) across the nation in a lower house election, officials said, with major parties vying for premiership.

Broadcasters' exit polls are expected to give a reasonable indication of the final outcome shortly after the ballot boxes are sealed at 8:00 pm.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was predicted to get a drubbing from an electorate that observers said would be handing the reins reluctantly to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Hawkish one-time PM Shinzo Abe appeared set for a return to office, after a campaign in which he has sketched out a harder line on foreign policy, as tensions rise with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Abe, whose brief stint as premier in 2006-7 ended ignominiously, has pledged to right Japan's listless economy, which has suffered years of deflation, made worse by a soaring currency that has squeezed exporters.

"With stronger monetary policies, fiscal policies and growth policies, we will end deflation, correct a high yen, and grow the economy," Abe said in a Saturday stump speech.

He has also pledged to boost spending on infrastructure projects at a time when large parts of the tsunami-ravaged northeast have yet to see significant rebuilding following the March 2011 catastrophe.

The collapse of an ageing highway tunnel that claimed nine lives earlier this month lent credence to his calls, which have been criticised by opponents as a return to the LDP's "construction state" of the last century.

Public unease about a deteriorating security environment -- North Korea lobbed a rocket over Japan's southern islands last week and China sent a plane into Japanese airspace -- has bolstered Abe's cause.

He has promised to boost defences and re-anchor a security alliance with the United States that is widely thought to have drifted under Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ).

The DPJ disappointed electors who handed it a hefty majority in 2009 polls. Policy missteps, diplomatic gaffes and vicious factional infighting saw it burn through three premiers in as many years and squander its electoral hand.

A plodding and sometimes confused response to the disaster at Fukushima where nuclear reactors went into meltdown after the tsunami last year did it no favours either.

Opinion polls show that despite a strong anti-nuclear feeling in Japan, an array of smaller parties promising an atomic exit may struggle to get much traction.

But commentators say there is little enthusiasm for any party, and the LDP's likely victory will come from their perceived status as the least-worst option.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • APEC trade chiefs vow to speed up work in WTO

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Trade ministers from 21 Asia-Pacific countries on Sunday issued strong support to the World Trade Organization's efforts to boost global trade amid a flurry of regional free trade agreements. …

  • Negotiations on TPP in 'end-game', says US trade representative
    Negotiations on TPP in 'end-game', says US trade representative

    Negotiations to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade zone are in the "end-game", US Trade Representative Mike Froman said Sunday. Asked about a timetable, Froman said: "We agreed to conclude (the TPP talks) the moment that we have an agreement on an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard agreement." "The focus will now shift to the US House of Representatives when they come back from recess and we look forward to working with them to get it passed as soon as possible," he …

  • ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes
    ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes

    The Yolanda-inspired film “Taklub” has won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The advocacy film, which had a successful premiere last Tuesday under the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, is directed by 2009 Cannes best director Brillante Mendoza and top-billed by Nora Aunor. The award cited the film’s sensitive portrayal of individuals and communities in the Philippines fighting to continue living despite natural disasters exposing them to suffering and death. …

  • Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam
    Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam

    A 21-year-old orphan from Capiz topped the chemical engineering board examinations held this month. Remington Salaya, a cum laude graduate of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo, ranked first in the board examinations with a score of 83.30 percent. Out of 405 chemical engineering graduates who took the exam in mid-May, 239 passed. …

  • A sunset party for APEC delegates
    A sunset party for APEC delegates

    Greeted by the beat of Ati-atihan drummers, delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting enjoyed a welcome dinner and cultural presentation at sunset yesterday. Dubbed FuntaSea, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s Banyugan Beach was transformed into a fantasy island, complete with mermaids, fire dancers, and choreographed paraws (sailboat) representing the best of Boracay. With APEC meetings being held all over the Philippines, each presentation is conceptualized …

  • UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute
    UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s increased assertiveness has alarmed its smaller neighbors. In Manila, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed to China to respect various international agreements on freedom of navigation and aviation. Coloma’s call came in the wake of an incident Wednesday where Chinese naval forces warned a US …

  • Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center
    Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center

    Philippine Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Elizabeth Buensuceso has called on participants of the ASEAN-China Center (ACC) brainstorming session to vigorously work on promoting ASEAN-China relations under the principles of inclusivity, transparency and centrality. The brainstorming session, attended by the ACC’s joint council and joint executive board members, also involved a midterm review of ACC’s work since its establishment in 2011. The ACC aims to promote …

  • Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation
    Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation

    Distressed Filipino domestic helpers in Lebanon may find it more difficult to return home. The government of Lebanon has tightened the rules on repatriation of distressed household service workers (HSWs), Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reported yesterday. Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Baldoz said the Lebanese government opted to re-impose a previous policy requiring investigation into every case of HSWs who ran away from their employers and sought …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options