Voting starts for general elections in Japan

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Tokyo, Dec 14: Voting for Japan's House of Representatives (the lower house) started at 7 am Sunday in over 48,000 polling stations across the nation, with 1,191 candidates running for 475 seats in the powerful chamber.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the snap election last month due to his decision to delay the scheduled sales tax hike by another 2 percent next year and said the poll is a referendum on his two-year rule and his economic policies dubbed "Abenomics", Xinhua reported.

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Abe said his economic policies had brought sign of recovery in some areas, but some opposition parties, citing recent government data suggesting the country's economy has slipped into recession, said the "Abenomics" was a failure that served to widen the wealth gap.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and its small partner the Komeito Party are seeking to maintain the coalition's comfortable majority in the lower house, while the opposition parties aim to gaining more seats to balance the LDP-Komeito dominant Diet, Japan's bicameral legislature.

Before the lower house dissolution, the ruling bloc took 326 seats in the 480-seat chamber.

Latest poll showed that the LDP is in the lead in the general election with 28 percent support in the proportional representation section, while the major opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) had 11.8 percent of supports.

Voting will end at 8 pm Sunday with some polling station will be closed at 7 pm.

The Internal affairs ministry source said they expect counting to be finished by the early hours of Monday.

Voter turnout hit a postwar record low of 59.3 percent in the 2012 general election which saw Abe taking office for the second time, and the voting rate may further decline this time, according to local media.

IANS

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