Noda quits as party chief after election loss

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In this Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 photo, supporters of Japan's largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) gather with national flags during a parliamentary election campaign in Tokyo. Japanese were voting Sunday, Dec. 16 in parliamentary elections that were expected to put the LDP, once-dominant conservatives, back in power after a three-year break — and bring in a more nationalistic government amid tensions with big neighbor China. (AP Photo/Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE

TOKYO (AP) — Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has resigned as chief of the Democratic Party of Japan to take responsibility for the party's loss in parliamentary elections.

The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party won between 275 and 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house of parliament in Sunday's election, NHK exit polls projected.

The DPJ was expected to capture less than 100 seats, far below its pre-election strength of 230.

Noda called the results "extremely severe" at a late night news conference, and said that the party lawmakers would hold a meeting as soon as possible to pick a new leader.