TOKYO Dec 11 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