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World/National News

December 16, 2012

Conservatives easily win in Japan

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in a landslide election victory Sunday after three years in opposition, according to unofficial results, signaling a rightward shift in the government that could further heighten tensions with China, a key economic partner as well as rival.

The victory means that the hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will get a second chance to lead the nation after a one-year stint in 2006-2007. He would be Japan’s seventh prime minister in six-and-a-half years.

In the first election since the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, atomic energy ended up not being a major election issue even though polls show about 80 percent of Japanese want to phase out nuclear power.

Public broadcaster NHK’s tally showed that the LDP, which ruled Japan for most of the post-World War II era until it was dumped in 2009, won 294 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament. Official results were not expected until Monday morning.

LDP, the most pro-nuclear power party, had 118 seats before the election. A new, staunchly anti-nuclear power party won just nine seats, according to NHK.

Syrian vice president says regime losing in civil war

BEIRUT (AP) — Syria’s longtime vice president says both sides are going down a losing path after 21 months of civil war, as rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad advance on the battlefield.

Farouk al-Sharaa told a Lebanese newspaper that neither the rebels nor the Assad regime can “decide the battle militarily.”

Al-Sharaa spoke to the newspaper Al Alkhbar as rebel forces were moving closer to Damascus, Assad’s seat of power. He appeared to be trying to show that the rebels are not the solution to the Syrian conflict, and their victory might bring chaos to the country.

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