Japan Votes To Elect Lower House Of Parliament

Polling in Japan began Sunday morning to elect 480 members to the House of Representatives that has some 1,504 candidates in the fray. Voting for the lower house of parliament started as early as 7.00 am local time even as political pundits predict a possible victory for the conservative Liberal Democratic Party, led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The polling is expected to end by about 8.00 pm local time and results anticipated by Monday.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has 267 candidates in the running with the Liberal Democratic Party having 338 contestants in the fray. The other smaller parties contesting the elections include the Japan Restoration Party with 172 candidates and the Tomorrow Party of Japan having 121 contestants. Japan's lower house of parliament was dissolved by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda on November 16.

With the opposition Liberal Democrats promising to boost the economy with greater action and a tougher stand against China in its territorial dispute, the conservatives seem to have got the feel of the general Japanese sentiment right. Media polls suggest the Liberal Democrats and its partner the New Komeito Party could garner over 300 seats in the lower house, while the center-left ruling party led by Yoshihiko Noda is expected to win about 60 seats. The ruling coalition currently has 230 seats in the lower house of parliament.

In the economic front, the Liberal Democrats have pledged to check inflation to about three percent, while stressing its determination to boost Japan's stagnant economy by getting Bank of Japan to adopt further quantitative easing policies. Japan is in the throes of its fourth recession in the last 12 years or so.

The Liberal Democrats are also upbeat on an energy policy that will see more of nuclear power generation in Japan, once elected to power. In contrast, the Democratic Party of Japan had promised not to build any new nuclear generating facilities, while pledging to phase out the existing nuclear power generators by 2030.

The Liberal Democrat coalition has also promised to adopt a tougher stand with China on territorial disputes in the Pacific even as the world's second largest economy gets more and more aggressive over the island both countries claim.

Japanese people have been disenchanted with ruling party that has been in power for the last three years with three different prime ministers in this short time. Voters believe the ruling party has failed to do anything substantial to turn around the stagnant economy, with Noda's proposal for double sales tax proposal seen as the last nail in the coffin.

The last three years have seen Japan go through a difficult phase with a major earthquake, a tsunami, and the nuclear power plant tragedy, which most Japanese feel have been dealt with rather shabbily by the ruling coalition.

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