Voting underway in Japan general election; Abe expects victory

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Tokyo: Voting was underway in Japan general election on Sunday, in which the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to achieve a solid victory in the face of a divided opposition.

Latest opinion polls have suggested the coalition of Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito will maintain a comfortable majority in the Lower House of Parliament, reports The Japan Times.

The ruling bloc is likely to capitalise on the win by pressing ahead with debate on the Constitution’s first amendment ever.

The opposition vote looks likely to be split between two parties that emerged in recent weeks out of the husk of the collapsing Democratic Party, according to the polls.

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Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike’s Kibo no To (Party of Hope) has taken on much of the Democratic Party’s conservative wing, while the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan has absorbed the liberals.

Polling stations will close at 8 p.m., with the final result expected by early Monday, reports The Japan Times.

A total of 1,180 candidates are vying for the Lower House’s 465 seats, 289 of which represent single-seat electoral districts.

The remaining 176 are filled through proportional representation, based on voters’ preferred parties across 11 regional blocks.

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Dissolving the Lower House on September 28, Abe said he needed to secure a fresh mandate from the public for his administration’s plans for the revenue from a consumption tax increase in October 2019 and for its handling of the threat from North Korea.

Sunday’s election is the first Lower House race in which 18 and 19-year-olds can vote, under a change in the law that took effect last year.