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The issues at stake: Party leaders speak to voters ahead of Japan general election

Japanese political party leaders (clockwise from top left): Yukio Edano of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan; Yuriko Koike of the Party of Hope; Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party; Natsuo Yamaguchi of Komeito; Ichiro Matsui of Nippon Ishin; Tadatomo Yoshida of the Social Democratic Party; and Kazuo Shii of the Japanese Communist Party. (Mainichi)

Campaigning for the Oct. 22 House of Representatives election began across Japan on Oct. 10, with leaders of the nation's major political parties outlining their positions on political issues in contention during the election. Below are summaries of speeches by the leaders of eight main political parties.

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Ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe delivers a campaign speech in the city of Fukushima on the morning of Oct. 10, 2017. (Mainichi)

* Shinzo Abe, president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Japan's prime minister, speaking in the city of Fukushima

Disaster restoration lagged under the leadership of the Democratic Party of Japan, and our starting point was thinking that we should win back control of the reins of government as soon as possible. During this election, too, I'm starting our campaign in Fukushima. It's a tough battle.

This is an election in which we will decide how we should address the nation's declining birth rate and tackle the threat posed by North Korea. At this point, as North Korea intentionally stirs up threats, we cannot waver. We have to cooperate with the rest of the world and create circumstances prompting North Korea to come and say, "Let's talk."

The highest wage rises ever have continued for four years in a row. The number of tourists to Fukushima has also doubled. Each time I have a leader's summit, I say, "The agricultural produce of Fukushima is safe."

We will tackle the major challenges of the declining birth rate and aging population. We'll make education free for infants in one go. We will also make higher education free for the children who truly need it. We will change social security to a form covering all generations. Cutting open a path to the future doesn't depend on booms or slogans, but on policy. We cannot lose this election.

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Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, leader of the Party of Hope, makes her first campaign speech for the Oct. 22, 2017 general election, in front of JR Ikebukuro Station in Tokyo's Toshima Ward on the morning of Oct. 10. (Mainichi)

* Yuriko Koike, leader of the Party of Hope, speaking in Toshima Ward, Tokyo

Japan has everything. It is filled with things. But it lacks one thing: hope for the future. It is the role of politics to give people the hope to think, "Tomorrow will be better than today, and the day after that better than tomorrow," and to fulfill that.

The wave of an extreme aging population is upon us. We have to change the structure of things. Miserable-sounding talk of raising the consumption tax to 10 percent and changing its use won't get the job done. We will first delay an increase in the consumption tax. As governor I have cut budget funds totaling 72 billion yen. It's already been proven that 1 trillion yen can easily come out (at the national level). I want to say (to the administration), "Don't act so big just because you've raised the gross domestic product by slightly over 1 percent after all of this monetary easing and fiscal stimulus measures."

I want to provide hope to people to live in society until the end of their lives. We will set a schedule for ending nuclear power in Japan by 2030. I want to make this an election in which people can say, "I'm glad I had hope." Let each person use their vote to end the system of politics in which Abe alone wields power.

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Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's junior coalition partner Komeito, makes his first campaign speech for the Oct. 22, 2017 House of Representatives election, in Iwamizawa, Hokkaido, on the morning of Oct. 10. (Mainichi)

* Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of Komeito, speaking in Iwamizawa, Hokkaido

The election battle has finally started. This election is one in which we are choosing a government administration. I want the LDP-Komeito coalition administration to carry Japan from this point on.

We have rapidly advanced into an age with a declining birth rate and aging population. The baby boomers are in their 70s, and society is becoming one with many elderly people in the late stages of life. But we have to properly raise the young generation. In line with the consumption tax hike in 2019, we want to greatly change the way we use the tax revenue to provide support for raising children. Then there is the issue of North Korea. We have to press harder on North Korea, with the world joining to solve the problem. For that reason we have to solidify the base of the LDP-Komeito administration and solve this problem with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe working together with the world.

This is an important election in which we can open up a new age. We will make education for infants and higher education free to reduce the burden of education, and back the young generation. We will make the first move. That's the promise of the LDP-Komeito administration.

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Japanese Communist Party leader Kazuo Shii delivers his first campaign speech for the Oct. 22, 2017 general election, in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward on the morning of Oct. 10. (Mainichi)

* Kazuo Shii, leader of the Japanese Communist Party, speaking in front of JR Shinjuku Station in Tokyo

This election provides a historic chance to drive the Abe administration out of power. What is the focus of this election? I'll ask people straight: Can we allow Abe's reckless politics to continue like this? There has never been an administration before that has disregarded our Constitution like this. It created the security legislation, the special state secrets law, and the "anti-conspiracy" law, and authority has started to run amok, with the Constitution being ignored. We will repeal laws that violate the Constitution, and restore a form of politics that protects the supreme law.

The suspicions relating to Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution involve the prime minister affording special benefits to his friends. If such things are permitted, then Japan will lose its status as a law-governed country. We will thoroughly probe the suspicious in a new Diet session.

"Abenomics" has resulted in widened disparity. We call for a flat-out end to raising the consumption tax rate to 10 percent.

If the second paragraph of Article 9 of the Constitution is hollowed out, then it could become possible (for Japan) to use force overseas without limit. We want to firmly halt amendments to the Constitution. Let the people and opposition parties fight together to create a new Japan.

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Yukio Edano, leader of the newly founded Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, delivers his first campaign speech for the Oct. 22, 2017 House of Representatives election, in this picture taken in Sendai's Aoba Ward on the morning of Oct. 10. (Mainichi)

* Yukio Edano, leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), speaking in Sendai

We want to restore a decent life for people, and to do that, we have to restore decent politics. With this in mind, I called for the formation of a new party one week ago. As long as people have the desire then they can learn, find jobs and become regular company workers. When did such things that are taken for granted change? Can non-regular employees take out a loan to buy a new car? Can they buy a house? Is it not politics that has created young people without hopes and dreams? The politics of today plays up personal-responsibility and free competition, abandoning its own responsibility. Let us restore society and the way of life that has been wrecked by such politics.

The Moritomo and Kake scandals are examples of Abe taking power into his own hands. Information is hidden and then politicians play it dumb and turn defiant. And despite great public opposition to the security legislation, the law on the protection of special state secrets and the law against conspiracy, there was a lack of decent explanations and efforts to convince the public. Is this democracy? It's not an issue of being "left" or "right." Let's change politics from a form that makes people listen to words spoken in a condescending tone, to a grassroots type based on the voices of the public.

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Nippon Ishin leader Ichiro Matsui (Mainichi)

Ichiro Matsui, leader of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), speaking in Osaka's Chuo Ward

Since Ishin was formed, the number of members of the Osaka Prefectural Assembly has been slashed by 20 percent. As a result, the Osaka Prefectural Government has been in the black over the past 10 years under former Gov. Toru Hashimoto and myself. We have cut down the number of people working in prefectural government offices by 2,700, freeing up the salaries they were paid. We've also put the knife to "amakudari" (the practice of former public servants parachuting into post-retirement jobs in related industries), and through reforms that allow the private sector to do what it can do, the prefectural government has been able to raise 90 billion yen a year.

Because of these financial resources, Osaka has effectively been able to make education free from the time children enter nurseries and kindergartens at the age of 4 or 5 until high school, including private schools. I want to expand this all over Japan. If it does expand, then we can make education free without tax hikes. If a consumption tax increase is allowed while national Diet members are getting good, preferential treatment, then tax hikes will be sought each time they run out of money, which just makes it tough on the lives of members of the public. Let's consider tax increases after thoroughly reviewing how money is spent at government offices.

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Tadatomo Yoshida, head of the Social Democratic Party, delivers a campaign speech for a candidate in the Oita No. 2 constituency, in this picture taken in Usuki, Oita Prefecture, on the morning of Oct. 10, 2017. (Mainichi)

Social Democratic Party leader Tadatomo Yoshida, speaking in Usuki, Oita Prefecture

There are two major focal points of the House of Representatives election this time. The first is whether Abe's politics can be permitted or not. Four opposition parties (in June) requested an extraordinary Diet session be held under Article 53 of the Constitution. Three months after this, on Sept. 28, an extraordinary Diet session was convened, but then the lower house was dissolved without any debate at all. There were the Moritomo and Kake scandals, and the problem of the logs of Japanese peacekeepers in South Sudan being covered up. We were told there will be a careful explanation, but there is absolutely no discussion in the Diet. This is an election in which the political stance of the Abe administration is being questioned.

The second focal point is the Constitution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has stated that he wants a referendum on amendments to the Constitution to clarify the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in Article 9. Inserting the SDF into Article 9 would result in the forces using armed might across the world together with the United States. Article 9 is a testament of trust with people across the world. We will prevent amendment of Article 9. In our election battle we will clearly hold up a form of politics that puts the Constitution to use, while prioritizing the lives of members of the public.

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Masashi Nakano of the Party for Japanese Kokoro (Mainichi)

* Masashi Nakano, leader of the Party for Japanese Kokoro, speaking in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward

We're finally seeing momentum to change the Constitution. Since our party's formation, we have called for the formulation of an autonomous (Japan-made) Constitution, and we want to form a Constitution of the people, by the people and for the people while Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in office. Exposed to the recklessness of North Korea and its military threat, Japan must possess the ability to attack enemy bases. We want to achieve many political tasks, and hand over to the next generation a Japan that we can be proud of, a strong Japan, and a Japan that is increasingly respected by the world.

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