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Japanese voters went to the polls on Sunday for a parliamentary election that may give the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) a surge of support after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a dominant politician and power broker.

Abe, Japan’s longest-serving modern leader, was gunned down on Friday during a speech in support of a local candidate in the western city of Nara, a killing the political establishment condemned as an attack on democracy itself.

Turnout as of 11 a.m. (0200 GMT) was 10.44%, the Ministry of Internal Affairs said, was up from 9.7% at the same point during the last upper house election in 2019. Some 15.3% of voters had cast absentee ballots by Friday, according to government data.

Polls close at 8 p.m. (1100 GMT), when media exit poll results are expected.

“We just lost Mr. Abe. I would like the LDP to win many votes so that they can run the country in a stable manner,” said Sakae Fujishiro, a 67-year-old pensioner who cast his vote for the ruling party in Tokyo’s eastern Edogawa ward.

Elections for seats in parliament’s less powerful upper house are typically seen as a referendum on the sitting government. Opinion polls before the assassination already pointed to a strong showing for the ruling bloc led by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, an Abe protege.

As the nation mourns, the LDP and its junior coalition partner Komeito could gain from a potential wave of sympathy votes, political analysts said.

“The ruling LDP-Komeito coalition was already on course for a solid victory,” James Brady of the Teneo consultancy said in a note. “A wave of sympathy votes now could boost the margin of victory.”

There was an increased police presence for Kishida at a campaign event in a city southwest of Tokyo and a metal detection scanner was installed at the venue, an unusual security measure in Japan.

The unemployed 41-year-old told police he spent months planning the attack, accusing the former prime minister of links to a religious cult that he blames for his mother’s financial ruin, according to Japanese media.



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