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Western monitors on Monday slammed the lack of choice in Kazakhstan's presidential election, which was won by incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev with 97.7 percent of the vote. Turnout in the election was a record 95.22 percent, according to the Central Election Commission in the vast country that borders both Russia and China. Speaking in the capital Astana shortly after early Monday exit polls pointed to nearly total voter support, Nazarbayev said he had a mandate for his plans to make Kazakhstan one of the thirty most developed countries in the world.
By Stanley White TOKYO (Reuters) - Fitch Ratings downgraded Japan's credit rating by one notch after the government failed to take steps in this fiscal year's budget to offset a delay in a sales tax increase, the agency said on Monday. Fitch cut its rating on Japan by one notch to A, which is five notches below the top AAA rating. "One reason why Japan is at single A, which is a low rating, is the fragility around the baseline case for the public debt," said Andrew Colquhoun, head of Asia-Pacific sovereigns at Fitch. Fitch's move follows a similar downgrade by Moody's Investors Service late last year and could pressure the government to take tough measures in a fiscal discipline plan that is due sometime around June.