Japan’s parliament re-elects Shinzo Abe as prime minister

(AP) — Japan’s lower house of parliament re-elected Shinzo Abe as prime minister on Wednesday after his party won a resounding victory in a snap election last month.

Abe, who has been Japan’s leader since December 2012, easily won the race with 312 votes in the 465-seat lower house. He is expected to reappoint the same ministers to his Cabinet later in the day.

The 63-year-old Abe dissolved the lower house in late September to force an election. Political analysts saw the move as an attempt to win a fresh public mandate and re-establish his hold on power after a plunge in his approval ratings last summer.

His Liberal Democratic Party won a large majority in the Oct. 22 vote. Together with a junior coalition partner, the Komei Party, it retained a two-thirds majority in the lower house.

The victory boosts Abe’s chances of being re-elected as LDP leader next September to a fresh three-year term, potentially extending his premiership to 2021.

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