World

Japan voters go to polls in parliamentary election expected to reaffirm ruling party majority

  • Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and Finance Minister Taro Aso,  center, wave to the crowd, during their election campaign of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo,  a day before Parliament's lower house election Saturday, Dec. 13. 2014.  Prime Minister Abe is counting on a landslide victory in parliamentary elections Sunday that will likely return his ruling coalition to power with an even bigger majority, empowering him to pursue an ambitious agenda of political and economic reforms.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

    Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and Finance Minister Taro Aso, center, wave to the crowd, during their election campaign of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in Tokyo, a day before Parliament's lower house election Saturday, Dec. 13. 2014. Prime Minister Abe is counting on a landslide victory in parliamentary elections Sunday that will likely return his ruling coalition to power with an even bigger majority, empowering him to pursue an ambitious agenda of political and economic reforms.(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kazuo Shii, head of the opposition Japanese Communist Party, shakes hands with supporters during the last day campaign for Sunday's parliamentary elections in Tokyo, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    Kazuo Shii, head of the opposition Japanese Communist Party, shakes hands with supporters during the last day campaign for Sunday's parliamentary elections in Tokyo, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)  (The Associated Press)

  • Kazuo Shii, head of the opposition Japanese Communist Party, delivers a speech during the last day campaign for Sunday's parliamentary elections in Tokyo, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Polls show that many voters, fed up with or indifferent to the choices on offer, support no party in particular, so Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party may win by default. The remaining splinter parties will likely win only a handful of seats each, with the Communist Party, a traditional protest vote, picking up a share of swing ballots.   (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

    Kazuo Shii, head of the opposition Japanese Communist Party, delivers a speech during the last day campaign for Sunday's parliamentary elections in Tokyo, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Polls show that many voters, fed up with or indifferent to the choices on offer, support no party in particular, so Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Liberal Democratic Party may win by default. The remaining splinter parties will likely win only a handful of seats each, with the Communist Party, a traditional protest vote, picking up a share of swing ballots. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)  (The Associated Press)

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.