Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling political coalition has won a huge victory in a snap election, exit polls have shown.
Reuters report that the Exit polls showed the coalition would win a two-thirds majority in the 475-seat lower house, but Abe's Liberal Democratic Party fell short of such a "super-majority" on its own.
Abe, 60, called the election two years early in order to obtain a fresh mandate for his "Abenomics" strategy of hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal stimulus and structural reforms after his decision to put off an unpopular sales tax rise next year for fear it would derail a recovery already in doubt.
The Prime Minister could use the victory - which appears to have come on the back of a rock-bottom voter turnout - to push ahead with painful economic reforms, analysts say.
But some fear he might instead turn more attention to his conservative agenda that includes revising Japan's pacifist constitution to ease limits on the military.
A strong earthquake has struck a mountainous area of central Japan that hosted the 1998 winter Olympics, knocking down at least 10 homes in a ski resort town and injuring several people.
Authorities say at least 39 people were injured in the initial tremor
The magnitude 6.8 earthquake struck near Nagano city at a depth of six miles, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. The US Geological Survey measured the quake's magnitude at 6.2. Since the quake occurred inland, there was no possibility of a tsunami.
One of the hardest-hit areas appeared to be Hakuba, a ski town west of Nagano that hosted events in the 1998 games. Ten homes collapsed there, said Shigeharu Fujimura, a Nagano prefecture disaster management official.
Nine people were trapped underneath the collapsed houses, but they all were rescued, and none had life-threatening injuries, said Hakuba official Tomoyuki Shimokawa.
Officials at Japan`s Meteorological Agency are warning people to be on the alert for aftershocks in the days ahead
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Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have met for formal talks for the first time since the two leaders took office.
It is hoped that this meeting will be the breakthrough needed to end a two-year row between Asia's biggest economies over history and territory.
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A dozen more bodies have been found at summit of a volcano Japan after it erupted at the weekend, raising the death toll to 48, police have told the Associated Press.
Earlier today, rescuers at the summit of Mount Ontake resumed the search, they had previously had to abandon efforts due to a rise in toxic gas levels.
Search teams have been forced to abandon efforts to find more victims of the Japan volcano eruption due to a rise in toxic gas levels.
Earlier today, rescuers at the summit of Mount Ontake found what could be five more victims of Saturday's eruption.
At least 36 people are feared to have died.
Thirty-one people were presumed dead near the peak of a Japanese volcano that erupted unexpectedly a day earlier while it was packed with hikers.
Police said the 31 people were found in "cardiopulmonary" arrest but declined to confirm their deaths pending a formal examination, as per Japanese custom.
Hundreds of people, including children, had to be rescued from Mount Ontake volcano in Japan after it erupted without warning.
A video showing a dramatic rescue operation has been released:
More than 30 people were feared dead on Sunday near the peak of the volcano.