The Democratic Party of Japan, led by Yukio Hatoyama (pictured), looks set to have won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary elections, more than doubling its presence in the lower house, with 300 of its 450 seats.
The opposition's win ends almost 50 years of unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party. Prime Minister Taro Aso said he would resign as head of the party and take responsibility for the defeat.
The DPJ's candidates said they would focus more on consumers and workers, boosting welfare and reforming bureaucracy. Japan suffers from record unemployment and is battling to recover from the recession.
Official results are due to be announced on Monday, but Mr Aso has already called the results "very severe" for his party.
Turnout was just under 50% - slightly less than in the 2005 election. It was a respectable figure, in the face of typhoon-triggered rainfall around the Tokyo area and swine flu warnings.
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