The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is set for a massive election victory, exit polls suggest.
Polls indicate the DPJ has won 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house, ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
The DPJ says it will shift the focus of government from supporting corporations to helping consumers and workers.
Japan is suffering record unemployment and its economy is struggling to emerge from a bruising recession.
The DPJ leader, Yukio Hatoyama, has promised to boost welfare, reform the bureaucracy, and seek a more balanced relationship with the United States.
Japanese broadcaster NHK announced its exit polls moments after voting ended at 2000 (1200 GMT), saying they showed a major power shift in Japan.
"Our exit polls show the main opposition Democratic Party will seize more than 300 seats, way more than a majority in the lower house," said the newsreader.
"That signals a defeat for the governing coalition."
The conservative LDP, led by Prime Minister Taro Aso, has governed Japan for all but 11 months since 1955.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Breaking News:'Major win' for Japan opposition"
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