Exit polls show the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is heading for a landslide victory in elections for the lower house.
The LDP and its junior coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komeito party, were projected to secure 300 of the 475-seat House of Representatives in an election billed as a touchstone for Abe's rule, according to Kyodo news service.
Abe called the snap elections in hopes of shoring up his two-year tenure and pushing forward with a difficult political and economic overhaul plan, known as Abenomics.
The Associated Press notes: "Share prices have risen and many companies have reported record profits, but the recovery has faltered in recent months, with the country returning to recession after a sales tax hike chilled demand among consumers and businesses."
Finance Minister Taro Aso, himself a former prime minister, said the vote "shows that voters gave the Abe administration a positive evaluation over the past two years.
"Abenomics is still halfway through, and I feel a strong sense of responsibility to push it further," Aso said.
The victory "virtually [ensures] Abe's re-election as prime minister later this month, and as LDP president next fall, keeping him in power for another three years," Kyodo says.