Dec. 16 - Japanese voters begin to cast their ballots in the country's lower house election, expected to throw the ruling Democratic Party of Japan from power. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
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(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION)
Japanese voters headed to polling stations on Sunday (December 16) in the election for parliament's lower house.
Polls opened at 0700 local time (2200 GMT on December 15) and voting continues nationwide until 2000 local time (1100 GMT on December 16).
The election is expected to end the three-year tenure of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), with the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) tipped to regain power.
Media surveys suggest the LDP will win a big majority in parliament's powerful 480-seat lower house, although many people were still undecided in polls just days before the vote.
The DPJ swept to power in 2009 to end more than 50 years of almost non-stop rule by the LDP.
But their support has slumped over what voters see as broken promises, a confused response to last year's tsunami and nuclear crisis, and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's embrace of unpopular causes such as a tax hike and the restarting of nuclear reactors.