Japan LDP and partner on track for big election win-surveys

TOKYO Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:31pm EST

TOKYO Dec 11 (Reuters) - Hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its smaller coalition partner are on track for a resounding victory in Sunday's election, winning more than 300 seats in the 480-member lower house, media surveys showed on Tuesday.

The Sankei and Mainichi newspapers also said Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan, which surged to power in 2009 for the first time, may get fewer than 80 seats.

The Sankei said an LDP-New Komeito party coalition could even win the two-thirds majority needed to over-ride parliament's upper house, where no party has a majority and which can block legislation.

Abe has vowed to press the Bank of Japan for radical monetary easing and spend more on public works to beat persistent deflation and a strong yen.

The Bank of Japan will likely ease monetary policy next week, sources say, as looming risks such as the potential fallout from the U.S. fiscal cliff and weak Chinese growth cloud the outlook for an economy already seen as in recession.

The most likely option is for the central bank to expand its asset-buying and lending programme, currently at 91 trillion yen ($1.1 trillion), by another 5-10 trillion yen, at the meeting on Dec. 19-20, sources familiar with its thinking have said.

For now, many in the central bank want to hold off on any new initiatives unless the U.S. Federal Reserve, which holds its policy-setting meeting this week, surprises markets with a bigger-than-expected stimulus and triggers a sharp yen rise.

Abe also favours a tough stance against China in a territorial row and loosening the limits of Japan's 65-year-old pacifist constitution on the military.

A stronger Japan would act as a counterbalance to the military rise of China, something that is worrying smaller Asian nations as tensions grow over conflicting territorial claims in the region, the Philippines said on Monday.

Revising the pacifist constitution would require a two-thirds majority in both houses as well as a majority in a public referendum, but changes to how it is interpreted are easier to accomplish.

(Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Linda Sieg and Michael Perry)