Japan PM set for re-election after `Abenomics` poll win

 Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to be re-elected on Wednesday with a broadly similar cabinet following his mid-December election triumph that was billed as a referendum on his economic growth blitz.

Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to be re-elected on Wednesday with a broadly similar cabinet following his mid-December election triumph that was billed as a referendum on his economic growth blitz.

Abe`s incumbent cabinet are scheduled to resign en masse Wednesday morning before parliament elects the 60-year-old premier with an overwhelming majority following his ruling coalition`s victory in the December 14 general election.

Abe will then announce his new cabinet Wednesday afternoon, which local media say will be largely unchanged, and include deputy premier and finance minister Taro Aso as well as foreign minister Fumio Kishida.

Abe`s Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition swept the ballot, winning a two-thirds majority in the lower house election. The upper chamber is also controlled by his ruling bloc.

The conservative leader billed the election as a referendum on his Abenomics growth plan, and pledged to concentrate on re-igniting the world`s number three economy, calling it his "top priority".

Japan had appeared on track for recovery after Abe swept to power in late 2012, but an April sales tax rise slammed the brakes on growth and plunged the economy into recession.

"We heard people`s voices calling for me to push on with Abenomics," he told a news conference following the election.

"I will carry out economic measures powerfully and boldly."As a first step, Abe is expected to announce fresh measures later this week, partially financed by a supplementary budget worth some 3.0 trillion yen ($25 billion) to counter the post tax-rise downturn.

The new measures will feature housing loan subsidies and tuition support for students, Japan`s leading Yomiuri newspaper and other media reported.

Abenomics -- a blend of big government spending, monetary easing and reforms to Japan`s highly regulated economy -- has sent the yen sharply lower and boosted stocks.

But Abe`s failure to implement some of the tough changes economists say are needed -- re-imagining the labour market and tackling an inefficient agricultural sector -- has left the premier open to the charge that he is pursuing style over substance.

Analysts say the election victory was less a resounding endorsement of Abe and his policies, than a symptom of a weak and fragmented opposition offering few credible alternatives.

According to a post-election opinion poll conducted by the Yomiuri, just seven percent of respondents thought his economic measures were the reason for the victory, while 55 percent said the LDP should have won fewer seats.

In addition to the economy, Abe has also vowed to pursue his nationalist agenda, including trying to persuade a sceptical public of the need to revise Japan`s pacifist constitution.

Abe`s desire to water down Japan`s constitution, imposed by the US after the end of World War II, has proved divisive at home and strained already tense relations with China.

Relations began to thaw last month after a more than two year chill, which Beijing blamed on Abe`s provocative nationalism, including a visit to a war shrine and equivocations on Japan`s wartime record of enslaving women for sex.

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