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Ruling coalition gains at polls

Japan's ruling coalition won a resounding victory in lower house elections Sunday, firming up Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's hold on power as he prepares to push forward on several politically difficult fronts.

The conservative Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled for most of the post-World War II era, locked up a solid majority, and appeared headed to winning at least two-thirds of the House of Representatives together with its coalition partner, the Buddhist-backed Komei party. In a series of TV interviews from party headquarters, Abe said his top priority was the economy.

The U.S. government hopes Abe will be able to win passage of a series of bills needed to expand Japan's military role. The White House congratulated Abe, calling the U.S.-Japan alliance "the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific." - AP