Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition has won a decisive election victory, extending its control to the upper house of parliament and setting the stage for the country's first stable government in years.
Based on exit polls, national broadcaster NHK predicts that Abe's Liberal Democratic Party and its coalition partner, New Komeito, will take 71 seats, giving them a total of 130 seats, eight more than needed for a majority in the chamber.
The election, which gives the ruling coalition control of both houses of the Diet for the first time in six years, is seen as a mandate on Abe's economic program, including aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus programs that have helped spur growth after decades of near stagnation in Japan.
While The Japan Times notes that turnout was low, it says the election can be "viewed as a gauge of support for [Abe's] radical deflation-busting economic strategy dubbed 'Abenomics.'"
However, Abe's hawkish foreign policy has caused tensions with regional neighbors China and South Korea.
The Associated Press reports:
"The Liberal Democrats' "Recover Japan" platform calls a strong economy, strategic diplomacy and unshakable national security under the Japan-U.S. alliance, which allows for 50,000 American troops to be stationed in Japan.
The party also favors revising the country's pacifist constitution, drafted by the United States after World War II, to give Japan's military a larger role — a message that alarms the Chinese government but resonates with some Japanese voters troubled by territorial disputes with China and South Korea and widespread distrust of an increasingly assertive Beijing."