Japanese voters are heading to the polls in a parliamentary election that is expected to reaffirm the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's majority.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Sunday's snap election for the lower house, saying he wanted a fresh mandate for his economic program and other policies. Abe said he would step down if the Liberal Democrats do not obtain an outright majority, but weakness among opposition parties makes that unlikely.

Abe took office two years ago promising to revive the stagnant economy and restore Japan's fading stature. Since then, share prices have risen and many companies have reported record profits as the Japanese yen has weakened in value, thanks to aggressive monetary easing. But the economy fell back into recession after a sales tax hike in April.