Latest: Exit polls point to win for Shinzo Abe in Japanese election

Update 2.35pm: Japanese voters have returned Prime Minster Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition to power in national elections, exit polls suggest.

Japanese media released result projections shortly after polls closed at 8pm local time on Sunday.

Mr Abe dissolved the lower house less than a month ago, forcing the snap election.

He judged that the timing was right for his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or at least better than waiting until the end of its term next year.

Up for grabs were 465 seats in the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime minister.

Media projections indicate a disappointing showing for a new Japanese opposition party that briefly excited voters.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK projected that the Party of Hope would win 38 to 59 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Party head Yuriko Koike called the results "very severe" in a televised interview from France. She is in Paris to attend a mayor's conference as the governor of Tokyo.

Ms Koike launched the Party of Hope in the same week that Mr Abe dissolved parliament to force the snap election.

Earlier:

Japan is voting in a general election that will most likely hand prime minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition a majority in parliament.

Up for grabs today are 465 seats in the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime minister.

Mr Abe dissolved the chamber less than a month ago, apparently judging that the political environment turned in his favour.

Media polls have indicated voters see Mr Abe's government as a safer choice over an opposition with uncertain track records.

Scare over North Korea's missile and nuclear development is also seen prompting their conservative choice.

An election victory would boost Mr Abe's chances for another three-year term as head of his Liberal Democratic Party next September, extending his premiership.

AP


KEYWORDS: Japan

 

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