July 21 - Early exit polls indicate Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc won a decisive victory in an upper house election. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
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ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION
Voting closed in Japan's upper house election on Sunday (July 21), with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's bloc looking set for a victory.
Exit pollls predicted a majority for Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and coalition ally New Komeito in the 242-member upper house. This would give the hawkish leader a mandate for his recipe to revive the economy, while ending a political deadlock and setting the stage for Japan's first stable government since 2006.
Abe, who returned to power after his Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition's big win in a December lower house poll, has said he will stay focused on fixing the economy with his "Abenomics" mix of hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and structural reforms.
But some business leaders and others with a stake in Japan's revival worry that Abe will weaken his resolve for reform in the face of a resurgent LDP, or shift to focus on the conservative agenda that has long been central to his ideology: revising the post-war pacifist constitution and recasting Tokyo's wartime history with a less apologetic tone.