TOKYO- After three years in the opposition, the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) crushed the left-wing Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in this Sunday’s House of Representatives election, reports the Daily Yomiuri.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda suffered a harsh defeat in the polls, leaving his party with only 57 seats in the House of Representatives, compared to the 230 it had during his mandate. According to the Japan Times, Noda promptly resigned as leader of the DPJ: “I bear the biggest responsibility for the severe defeat, […] I will resign as the party president.”

One of the major issues that dominated the campaign was nuclear power, which the LDP has always supported. The fact that among the people who voted for the LDP, 16% wanted to give up on nuclear power immediately and 28% wanted to gradually phase out of it, it goes to show that this wasn’t the only key subject for voters. During the campaign, the LDP had denounced nuclear-free slogans as “irresponsible.”

The poor state of the economy was a decisive factor too, said the Wall Street journal – more precisely the growing inflation which tainted Noda’s last years as PM: “Throughout this election, I’ve repeatedly insisted that I would like to forge a policy accord with the bank of Japan to set a 2% inflation target,” declared LDP President Shinzo Abe.

This election occurred at a critical moment, as Japan’s relationship with China heats up by the day due to minor (but meaningful) incidents in the Senkaku islands, reports Sky News. Shinzo Abe’s position leaves no doubt as to his future policy regarding the Senkakus: “China is challenging the fact that [the islands] are Japan’s inherent territory.”

The return of Shinzo Abe. Photo Wikipedia

Abe, who served as prime minister in 2006-2007, will become the second man to be prime minister twice since World War II.  According to projections, the Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito alliance won 325 seats, much more than the 252 seats needed for a stable, giving Abe a very comfortable mandate. Voter turnout was at about 59%, one of the lowest in the postwar period.

According to the Daily Yomuiri, Abe is likely to be elected as the next prime minister in a special parliamentary session late December. He will be Japan's seventh leader in six years.