Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to call elections a year early – to capitalise on rising support as tensions with North Korea rise – appeared to have paid off on Sunday.

Media forecasts show that Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party-led coalition is nearing the two-thirds “super majority” it had in the Lower House before it was dissolved on September 28, Reuters reported.

An exit poll by TBS television has projected 311 seats for the party in the 465-member Lower House. Other exit polls forecast a majority slightly below the two-thirds mark.

Polling stations opened across the country at 7 am and is expected to close in another hour. Voters battled high winds and rain to vote on Sunday as a typhoon barrelled towards Japan.

A hefty victory would raise the likelihood that Abe, who took office in December 2012 promising to bolster defence and reboot the economy, will win a third term and go on to become Japan’s longest-serving premier, the report said.

Abe had announced the snap elections after local surveys suggested that voters approved of his firm line on North Korea, which has fired two ballistic missiles over northern Japan in recent weeks.

Typhoon Lan drenches Japan

Thousands of people across Japan were asked to evacuate, flights were cancelled and train services were disrupted on Sunday as Typhoon Lan roared towards the coast, Reuters reported. Classified as an intense Category 4 storm by the Tropical Storm Risk monitoring site, Lan was south of Japan and moving northeast at 40 kmph on Sunday afternoon, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

Although Typhoon Lan appeared to have weakened slightly from its peak, it is still a powerful storm that could pound parts of Japan with more than 80 mm of rain an hour. It may make landfall near Tokyo early on Monday.