Japan's next PM Abe must deliver on economy, cope with China
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Conservative ex-premier Shinzo Abe will get a second chance to lead Japan after his Liberal Democratic Party surged back to power in Sunday's election, but he must move swiftly to bolster a sagging economy and manage strained ties with China to avoid the fate of his short-lived predecessors.
Abe, whose party won by a landslide just three years after a crushing defeat, is due to meet the leader of its small ally on Monday to cement their alliance and confirm economic steps to boost an economy now in its fourth recession since 2000.
The victory by the LDP, which had ruled Japan for most of the past 50 years before it was ousted in 2009, will usher in a government pledged to a tough stance in a territorial row with China, a pro-nuclear energy policy despite the 2011 Fukushima disaster and a potentially risky recipe for hyper-easy monetary policy and big fiscal spending to boost growth.
Projections by TV broadcasters showed that the LDP had won at least 294 seats in the 480-member lower house, while its ally the New Komeito party took 31 seats.
That gives them a two-thirds majority needed to overrule parliament's upper house in most matters.
Since 2007, successive governments have been hamstrung by a "twisted parliament" where ruling coalitions lacked control over the upper house, which could block most legislation.
While investors have already pushed the yen lower and share prices higher in anticipation of an LDP victory and Abe's economic stimulus, the "super majority" drove the yen to a 20-month low against the US dollar as far as 84.48.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei opened up 1.6 pct on Monday, hitting a high of more than eight months.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was crushed.
It was forecast to win 57 seats -- less than a fifth of its showing in 2009, when it swept to power promising to pay more heed to consumers than companies and pry control of policies from bureaucrats.
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