12/04/2014, 00.00
JAPAN
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Shinzo Abe comfortably leading polls in Japan's snap election

Japan's prime minister dissolves lower house two years before its term was set to end in order to boost support for his economic policies. Dubbed Abenomics, they have led the country into technical recession. Surveys reflect opposition weakness, rather than support for Mr Abe.

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - Two days after campaigning began for Japan's election, polls show outgoing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on course for a convincing win.

Unless something unforeseen happens, Mr Abe's right-wing Liberal Democratic Party could retain its two-thirds majority in parliament. Such a win could help the prime minister pursue his economic reform agenda.

Dubbed 'Abenomics,' the former includes loose monetary policy, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms to boost investments. It also entails higher taxes, which is why he called a snap election.

Under the policy, Japan's GDP growth initially saw a lift, followed by a slide and a technical recession this quarter. This was partly due to a rise in sales tax in April, from 5 per cent to 8 per cent.

Aimed at curbing Japan's public debt, the highest among developed nations, the tax hike ended up stopping consumers spending.

A second increase, to 10 per cent, was set for October 2015, but Mr Abe said it would be delayed by at least 18 months. Meanwhile, he called the 14 December election.

Various observers suggest that polling figures do not reflect any wave of support for the prime minister but rather opposition weakness.

In light of that, Mr Abe pledged "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".

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