Shinzo Abe likely to be next Japanese PM

The Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) victory in Japan's parliamentary election virtually ensured that Shinzo Abe, who resigned as prime minister for health reasons in 2007 after just a year in office, gets a second chance to try to lead Japan out of its economic slump.

The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party won between 275 and 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament in Sunday's election, NHK exit polls projected.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), to which Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda belongs, was expected to capture less than 100 seats, far below its pre-election strength of 230.

In Abe's political resurrection, the Japanese are confiding their hopes for a national comeback, backing Liberal Democrat pledges to restore the good times of the 1980s and 90s, before the financial bubble went bust and the economy slid into a 20-year funk.

Abe epitomises the LDP brand of conservatism and nationalism that kept the party in power for most of the post-World War II era, until it was ousted by the Democratic Party of Japan in 2009.

Meanwhile, Noda has resigned as president of the DPJ to take responsibility for the party's loss in parliamentary elections.

Noda called the results "extremely severe'' at a late night news conference, and said that the party lawmakers would hold a meeting as soon as possible to pick a new leader.

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