Five key battlegrounds in Japan election

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Japan's Prime Minister and ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader Shinzo Abe (L) waves to supporters during his last stumping tour for the October 22 general election in Tokyo on October 21, 2017

"Abenomics", post-Fukushima nuclear policy, tax, the constitution and North Korea: These are the main battlegrounds of Sunday's election in Japan that pits Prime Minister Shinzo Abe against an upstart opposition led by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.

Here are the policies of the two main figures on the key issues:

- 'Abenomics' vs 'Yurinomics'

The main election battle is over how to expand growth and rekindle inflation in the world's number three economy.

ABE: For the prime minister, it's all about "Abenomics", his trademark economic policy that combines aggressive monetary easing and huge government spending with reforms to the world's third-largest economy.

"Abenomics" has fattened corporate profits and sent the stock market to two-decade highs but so far failed to fix deflation, and critics charge that the effects have not trickled down to ordinary Japanese households.

KOIKE: With a former TV presenter's eye for a media soundbite, Koike has dubbed her economic policy "Yurinomics," which aims to avoid the heavy reliance on public spending and monetary easing preferred by her opponent.

Instead, Koike aims to stimulate the economy by slashing red tape and setting up special economic zones.

- Nuclear energy -

In a country still scarred by the Fukushima disaster in 2011, nuclear energy policy is one of main areas of clearly defined difference between the two candidates.

ABE: Vows to continue promoting nuclear energy, calling it essential to powering the Japanese economy. His government and utility firms have been pushing to switch back on nuclear reactors shut down after the Fukushima meltdown.

KOIKE: Pledges to phase out nuclear power in Japan by 2030 and enshrine a no-nuclear policy in the constitution. However, she acknowledges that for now, mothballed nuclear power plants will need to be restarted.

- Tax -

Abe called the election ostensibly because he wanted to get voters' approval for a change in how the proceeds from a planned sales tax hike were going to be spent.

ABE: Wants to use a larger proportion of the extra cash from the hike (from eight percent to 10 percent) on greater financial support for childcare, including making pre-school nurseries free, as the country battles a falling birth rate.

KOIKE: Promised to freeze the planned sales tax hike, which she says would put the brake on the Japanese economy now marking the longest period of expansion in more than a decade.

Instead, she proposes a broader corporate tax and the sale of more state assets to make up the hole in the coffers.

- Constitutional change -

ABE: Wants to push through the first-ever change in the US-imposed constitution to make a specific mention of the country's Self-Defense Forces. He also wants to enshrine his free education scheme in the document.

KOIKE: Declines to write the military into the constitution, which bans the officially pacifist nation from maintaining land, sea and air forces. She says her party will decide after confirming popular support for the issue.

But the former defence minister seeks to promote discussions on a revision of Article 9 of the constitution, which requires Japan to renounce war.

- North Korea -

ABE: For the prime minister, the threat posed by North Korea is the top political priority. Abe proposes to beef up the nation's defence system and boost the Japan-US military alliance, which has been reinforced by controversial new laws that could see Japanese troops fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

KOIKE: The opposition leader has taken a low-profile stance on the North Korean crisis, only promising to tackle "Japan's severe security environment regardless of party affiliation."

As Tokyo governor, Koike has vowed to cooperate with Abe's central government since a North Korean missile flew over northern Japan last month.

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