Japan votes, new govt likely | Bangkok Post: news

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Japan votes, new govt likely

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TOKYO: Voting began in Japan Sunday morning in a general election likely to return long-ruling conservatives to power after three years out of power. 

Polling stations opened at 7am (5am Thailand time, 2200 GMT Saturday) across the nation in a lower house election, officials said, with major parties vying for premiership.The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda was predicted to get a drubbing from an electorate that observers said would be handing the reins reluctantly to the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).Hawkish one-time PM Shinzo Abe appeared set for a return to office, after a campaign in which he has sketched out a harder line on foreign policy, as tensions rise with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea.Abe, whose brief stint as premier in 2006-7 ended ignominiously, has pledged to right Japan's listless economy, which has suffered years of deflation, made worse by a soaring currency that has squeezed exporters."With stronger monetary policies, fiscal policies and growth policies, we will end deflation, correct a high yen, and grow the economy," he said in a Saturday stump speech.He has also pledged to boost spending on infrastructure projects at a time when large parts of the tsunami-ravaged northeast have yet to see significant rebuilding following the March 2011 catastrophe.The collapse of an ageing highway tunnel that claimed nine lives earlier this month lent credence to his calls, which have been criticised by opponents as a return to the LDP's "construction state" of the last...

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