Japan election: Polls point to convincing Shinzo Abe win

A man walks past posters of Japanese Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Shinzo Abe displayed at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on 4 December 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Voters will cast ballots in Shinzo Abe's snap poll on 14 December

Two days after campaigning began for Japan's snap election, polls showed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on course for a convincing win.

Surveys conducted by Kyodo news agency and major newspapers found Mr Abe's ruling coalition could retain its two-thirds majority in parliament.

Such a win could help boost Mr Abe as he pursues unpopular policies.

But observers suggest the figures reflect opposition weakness, rather than a wave of support for Mr Abe.

The prime minister called the 14 December election last month, two years ahead of schedule.

He is seeking a new mandate for his "Abenomics" economic reform agenda - loose monetary policy, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms - which he launched two years ago.

Under the policy Japan's GDP growth initially saw a lift, but the economy continued to slide and Japan entered a technical recession this quarter.

This was partly because of a rise in sales tax in April, from 5% to 8%. It was aimed at curbing Japan's public debt, the highest among developed nations, but instead stopped consumers spending.

A second increase, to 10%, was set for October 2015 but Mr Abe has said that will be delayed by at least 18 months.

'Glowing centre'

Campaigning on Tuesday, opposition Democratic Party leader Banri Kaieda said the election "was launched to hide the failure of Abenomics".

"It has been two years now since Abe put forth his economic policy. In these two years, has it really helped the people's lives? This is the question that needs to be reflected upon when voting."

But while Mr Abe's approval ratings have fallen, trust in the opposition remains low in the wake of its comprehensive 2012 election defeat after an unstable three years in office.

On Tuesday, Mr Abe said the poll would judge his economic policy.

"I promise to win this election, push through the recovery efforts, return the economy to a strong state and put this region and Japan back at the glowing centre of the world," he said.

The polls showed that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party could win more than 300 of the 475 seats in the lower house, with more coming from junior coalition partner New Komeito.

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