Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition back to power following national elections - exit polls
Japanese voters have returned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition to power in national elections, exit polls suggest.
Japanese media released result projections shortly after polls closed at 8pm local time on Sunday.
Mr Abe dissolved the lower house less than a month ago, forcing the snap election.
He judged that the timing was right for his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, or at least better than waiting until the end of its term next year.
Up for grabs were 465 seats in the more powerful lower house, which chooses the prime minister.
Media projections indicate a disappointing showing for a new Japanese opposition party that briefly excited voters.
Japanese public broadcaster NHK projected that the Party of Hope would win 38 to 59 seats in the lower house of parliament.
Party head Yuriko Koike called the results "very severe" in a televised interview from France. She is in Paris to attend a mayor's conference as the governor of Tokyo.
Ms Koike launched the Party of Hope in the same week that Mr Abe dissolved parliament to force the snap election.