Image source, ReutersImage caption, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida took power of the ruling party ahead of the general election

Polls have closed in Japan's election with the country's ruling coalition expected to secure a weakened majority.

National broadcaster NHK projected the LDP-Komeito coalition would win between 239 to 288 lower house seats – more than the 233 needed to retain control.

But it is unclear if new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will win enough seats to be able to govern on its own.

Mr Kishida, 64, became leader of the ruling LDP earlier this month.

The party has dominated Japanese politics for decades but has been criticised for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

His predecessor, Yoshihide Suga, stepped down in September after just a year in office. The resignation came amid plummeting poll ratings for the LDP following an unpopular push to continue with the Tokyo Olympics despite public concern about surging Covid-19 rates.

Mr Kishida has long-targeted the prime ministerial role and previously served as the country's foreign minister from 2012 to 2017.

  • Fumio Kishida wins race to become Japan's next PM

The LDP went into general election holding 276 of the the 465 seats up for grabs. Broadcaster NHK's exit polls predict it could secure as few as 212.

Japan's parliament, known as the National Diet, comprises the lower House of Representatives and an upper House of Councillors.

Sunday's vote concerned the more powerful lower house, with an upper house vote set to take place next year.

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To play this video you need to enable JavaScript in your browser.Media caption, Japan election: Why the ruling party keeps winning