Outgoing Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced his resignation as party chief late Sunday, calling the election results “severe” and acknowledging that his party failed to live up to the nation’s high expectations.
His Democratic Party of Japan said it won only 57 seats. Among its casualties were eight Cabinet ministers — the most to lose in an election since World War II.
Although the election was the first since the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, atomic energy — which the LDP conditionally supports — ended up being a side issue, though polls showed that about 80 percent of Japanese want to phase it out completely.
The LDP will stick with its longtime partner, New Komeito, backed by a large Buddhist organization, to form a coalition government, party officials said. Together, they now control 325 seats, securing a two-thirds majority that would make it easier for the government to pass legislation.
A dizzying array of more than 12 parties, including several news ones, contested in the election, some with vague policy goals.
The most significant new force is the right-leaning, populist Japan Restoration Party, which won 54 seats.
The party is led by the bombastic nationalist former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto — polarizing figures with forceful leadership styles. Mr. Ishihara is another hawk on China, having stirred up the latest dispute with Beijing by proposing Tokyo buy the islands from their private Japanese owners and develop them.
The anti-nuclear Tomorrow Party — formed just three weeks ago — captured only nine seats. Party head Yukiko Kada said she was very disappointed to see the LDP, the original promoter of Japan’s nuclear energy policy, make such a big comeback.