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JAPAN: Resounding victory for the LDP

Voters returned power Sunday to the Liberal Democratic Party, which until 2009 ran post-World War II Japan nearly without interruption and that now re-inherits the economic problems no leader has been able to fix. Public broadcaster NHK said the Liberal Democratic Party grabbed 294 spots in the 480-seat lower house, up from 118. The Democratic Party of Japan won only 57, down from 230, a fierce rebuke for guiding the country into another recession and into a territorial dispute with China. The election reinstates a familiar face, with nationalist LDP party president Shinzo Abe becoming prime minister for the second time. Abe replaces Yoshihiko Noda, who stepped down as DPJ leader. The LDP's coalition partner, New Komeito, won 31 seats, providing a veto-proof "supermajority."


NORTH KOREA: Rocket firing enhances memorial

North Korea parlayed the success of last week's rocket launch to glorify leader Kim Jong Un and his late father on Sunday, the eve of the first anniversary of his death. The successful rocket firing on Wednesday, ostensibly to place a satellite in space, was a clear sign that Kim will continue carrying out his father Kim Jong Il's policies, even if they draw sanctions and international condemnation. At a somber memorial service, the top leadership eulogized Kim Jong Il and his son, who is certain to have gained clout by going ahead with the rocket launch.


BAHRAIN: Protests greet king's speech

Police fired tear gas at anti-government protesters who took to the streets after an annual address by the Gulf nation's king, activists said. Sporadic clashes took place shortly after King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa called for unity Sunday in a speech for the kingdom's national day. They highlight the country's sharp divides after more than 22 months of near-nonstop unrest between the Sunni monarchy and the country's majority Shia, who seek a greater political voice. Yousef al-Muhafedha, acting head of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, said hundreds of protesters were dispersed by riot police firing tear gas in a neighborhood near the capital, Manama. Elsewhere, masked youths blocked roads with burning tires. Protest groups are calling for large-scale marches later this week.

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