Japan heads to polls, conservative LDP seen returning to power

TOKYO Sat Dec 15, 2012 1:06pm EST

1 of 7. Japan's main opposition Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) leader and former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to voters atop a campaign van at Akihabara electronics store district in Tokyo December 15, 2012, on the last election campaign day ahead of Sunday's general election.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Voters were expected to return Japan's conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to power in an election on Sunday after a three year hiatus, giving ex-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a chance to push his hawkish security agenda and radical economic recipe.

An LDP win would usher in a government committed to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear power energy policy despite last year's Fukushima disaster and a potentially risky prescription for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to beat deflation and tame a strong yen.

Media surveys have forecast the LDP will win a big majority in parliament's powerful 480-seat lower house, just three years after a devastating defeat that ended more than 50 years of almost non-stop rule by the business-friendly party. However, many voters remained undecided just days before the vote, the polls showed.

Together with a small ally, Abe's LDP could even gain the two-thirds majority needed to break through a policy deadlock that has plagued successive governments for half a decade.

Polls open at 0700 a.m. (1700 ET) and close at 8 p.m. (0600 EDT), when major TV broadcasters will issue exit polls forecasting results.

Abe, 58, who quit abruptly as premier in 2007 after a troubled year in office, has been talking tough in a row with China over uninhabited isles in the East China Sea, although some experts say he may temper his hard line with pragmatism once in office.

The soft-spoken grandson of a prime minister, who would become Japan's seventh premier in six years, Abe also wants to loosen the limits of a 1947 pacifist constitution on the military, so Japan can play a bigger global security role.

The LDP, which promoted atomic energy during its decades-long reign, is expected to be friendly to nuclear utilities, although deep public safety concerns remain a barrier to business as usual for the industry.

ECONOMY IN DOLDRUMS

Abe has called for "unlimited" monetary easing and big spending on public works - for decades a centrepiece of the LDP's policies and criticized by many as wasteful pork barrel - to rescue the economy from its fourth recession since 2000.

Many economists say that prescription for "Abenomics" could create temporary growth and enable the government to go ahead with a planned initial sales tax rise in 2014 to help curb a public debt now twice the size of gross domestic product.

But it looks unlikely to cure deeper ills or spark sustainable growth, and risks triggering a market backlash if investors decide Japan has lost control of its finances.

Japan's economy has been stuck in the doldrums for decades, its population ageing fast and big corporate brands faltering, making "Japan Inc" a synonym for decline.

Consumer electronics firms such as Sony Corp are struggling with competition from foreign rivals and burdened by a strong yen, which makes their products cost more overseas.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) surged to power in a historic victory in 2009 promising to pay more heed to consumers than companies and put politicians, bureaucrats, in charge of policymaking.

Many voters now feel the DPJ pledges were honored in the breach as the novice party struggled to govern and to cope with last year's huge earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster and then pushed through an unpopular sales tax increase with LDP help.

Voter distaste for both major parties has spawned a clutch of new parties including the right-leaning Japan Restoration Party founded by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.

Surveys show the DPJ, hit by a stream of defections, is likely to win fewer than 100 seats, less than a third of its tally in 2009.

(Additional reporting by Leika Kihara, Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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Comments (3)
Zephon wrote:
If the Japanese Right Wing Hawks win expect a tragedy for the world.

These Right Wingers deny history.

They make up as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in defense of their nation.

They deny Japan’s war crimes during WWII which include:

- Cannibalism of prisoners

- Forced prostitution of prisoners

- Massacre of civilians including women and Children

- Experiments on live prisoners ending in their death

- Games of slaughter were Japanese soldiers competed on how many captive prisoners they could slaughter vs another

Japan has re-written their history to forget all these things.

Yesterday BBC reports on these right wing politicians that deny war
crimes but also I quote some of the statements they have recently made in the BBC article:

- wanting to develop nuclear weapons (Japan already has processed
plutonium to weapons grade and has enough to make 1000s of nuclear bombs
and have their first weapon within the year)

- wanting to withdraw any apologies made to those who suffered at the hands of Japanese aggression in WWII

- Ishihara “Women who live beyond their child-bearing years are useless and are committing a sin.”

- Hashimoto “What Japan needs now is dictatorship”.

As Americans we need to remember and take responsibility for letting
war criminals go unpunished and Japan writing this history away.

Let us not forget our brave men and women that died at the hands of the Japanese!

Dec 15, 2012 10:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
Zephon wrote:
If the Japanese Right Wing Hawks win expect a tragedy for the world.

These Right Wingers deny history.

They make up as if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in defense of their nation.

They deny Japan’s war crimes during WWII which include:

- Cannibalism of prisoners

- Forced prostitution of prisoners

- Massacre of civilians including women and Children

- Experiments on live prisoners ending in their death

- Games of slaughter were Japanese soldiers competed on how many captive prisoners they could slaughter vs another

Japan has re-written their history to forget all these things.

Yesterday BBC reports on these right wing politicians that deny war
crimes but also I quote some of the statements they have recently made in the BBC article:

- wanting to develop nuclear weapons (Japan already has processed
plutonium to weapons grade and has enough to make 1000s of nuclear bombs
and have their first weapon within the year)

- wanting to withdraw any apologies made to those who suffered at the hands of Japanese aggression in WWII

- Ishihara “Women who live beyond their child-bearing years are useless and are committing a sin.”

- Hashimoto “What Japan needs now is dictatorship”.

As Americans we need to remember and take responsibility for letting
war criminals go unpunished and Japan writing this history away.

Let us not forget our brave men and women that died at the hands of the Japanese!

Dec 15, 2012 10:28am EST  --  Report as abuse
beancube2101 wrote:
Pay, just pay as much as you can to war monger, all they need to do is use those corporation mass media to brain wash you about war and you’ll forget their corrupted political parties covering up those Fukushima nuclear facilities had done to Japan and get suck into paying deep out of your country resources to them.

Wimpy people will never escape from repeating bad histories. Just one of those facilities get hit again during your favorite war would be enough for all people move out of Japan for century. Go ahead, you’ll get what those war sellers’ want.

Dec 15, 2012 2:55pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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