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12.22 22 Oct 2017


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Exit polls from the Japanese snap election have indicated that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition is likely to secure a large majority.

Mr Abe had called the election a year earlier than required, and polls have projected the coalition led by his Liberal Democratic Party could maintain a two-thirds majority in the 465-seat parliament.

Broadcaster NHK declared that Mr Abe's party is heading for a 'landslide victory'.

Millions battled severe wind and rain to vote in the election, as a powerful typhoon caused chaos across the country.

While voting went ahead, more than 70,000 households were advised to evacuate - with 5,000 of those ordered to leave.

Typhoon Lan - a category four storm - also forced car manufacturer Toyota to suspend operations at several plants.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled as the typhoon roared towards the coast, with train services disrupted in southern and western parts of Japan.

Heavy rain and flood warnings have been issued to the Pacific side of the country, with winds of over 225 km/h and 80mm of rain predicted per hour.

Despite the bad weather, early indications showed voter turnout to be high.

Mr Abe had called the election one year early, hoping to ride high on his hard line stance towards the North Korea crisis.

In August and September Kim Jong Un fired ballistic missiles over Japan, threatening to "sink" Japan into the sea.

Japan also faces domestic economic challenges, exacerbated by an ageing population.

Despite his predicted success, Mr Abe is not always popular with voters, and he has faced a number of recent scandals.

If the party retain its "supermajority" in the lower house, Mr Abe will be able to challenge the US-imposed constitution limiting Japan's military freedoms.

Success in the election would see Mr Abe, 63, become the country's longest-serving leader.

Voting closed at 8pm on Sunday (12pm Irish time).

Typhoon Lan is expected to make landfall near Tokyo early on Monday.


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