Japan's Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in national polls on Sunday, returning to power a party that held a near monopoly on power in Japan's post-war political order until its defeat three years ago. With the LDP's victory, Shinzo Abe, a nationalist and China hawk, is set to become Japan's next prime minister.
Together with its parliamentary ally, New Komeito, the LDP now controls over two-thirds of seats in Japan's lower house, which will allow the two parties to together overrule the upper chamber. Abe has promised to embark on a bold program of economic reform, saying that he will press the Bank of Japan to take steps to increase inflation and end the decades of stagnant growth that have become a hallmark of the Japanese economy. Abe has said that he plans to force the BoJ to raise its inflationary target and push it to engage in "unlimited" quantitative easing, in addition to passing a stimulus bill.
Abe's election has also raised the prospect of increased tensions between China and Japan, which have spent much of the past the year sparring over disputed island claims. Though he declined to visit the Yasukuni Shrine, a memorial to Japanese soldiers who died in World War II that includes the remains of some executed war criminals, during his previous term as prime minister, Abe said on Monday that he experienced the "deepest anguish" over that decision. Abe, 58, also supports revising Japan's constitution, which renounces war, to allow for a more robust defense.
Egypt: Egyptians took a first step toward approving their country's controversial draft constitution during the first round of voting over the weekend. The Muslim Brotherhood said that about 57 percent of ballots cast Saturday supported ratification of the new constitution, the drafting of which critics say was controlled by Islamists. But turnout was low, and members of the opposition said that voting was marred by widespread irregularities and abuse.
- Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, is expected to be named the next secretary of state.
- Speaking at a vigil for the victims of a Connecticut school shooting, U.S. President Barack Obama called for "meaningful action" against gun violence.
- The party of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez won a landslide victory in gubernatorial elections.
- A car bomb set off at a market in Pakistan's northwest tribal region killed 17 and wounded over 40.
- North Korea unveiled the embalmed, khaki-clad body of its deceased leader, Kim Jong Il.
- China will continue a "pro-active fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy in 2013," according to an official news agency report from an annual policy conference.
- Syria's veteran vice president called for a settlement of that country's civil war that would lead to the formation of a "national unity government with broad powers."
- Israel's foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, announced that he would resign after prosecutors said they would charge him with fraud.
- A series of bombings in Iraq targeting ethnic minorities and Shiite pilgrims killed 17 and wounded dozens.
- Commenting on an anti-homosexuality bill, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni said that "if there are some homosexuals, we shall not kill or persecute them."
- South African police have foiled a plot to bomb the national conference of the African National Congress.
- Nelson Mandela is recovering after having successfully undergone a procedure to remove gallstones.