Japan on Monday welcomed Thailand's legislative elections as a key step towards forming a democratic government in the country, which has been ruled by martial law for over a year.
"Our country welcomes the lower house election held in Thailand, which has an extremely important meaning towards the establishment of a democratic government," Foreign Ministry Press Secretary Mitsuo Sakaba said.
"We hope a new government will be established smoothly as the result of the election," Sakaba said in a statement.
The allies of former premier and Thai tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra, currently in self-imposed exile, have claimed victory after the first legislative elections since a coup in September 2006 were held on Sunday.
The allies have declared their intention to form a coalition government.
The vote constitutes a serious reverse for the army, which tried to diminish the power of Thaksin's camp after the military takeover.