Japan gears up for decisive election

Japan polls

participation in a mooted free trade area encircling the Pacific Ocean.

Abe said yesterday he would also liberalise the electricity market, in a move supporters hope will free the country from the stranglehold of massive monopolistic

utilities that generate and supply power.

Opponents say the premier's focus on the economy is a ruse designed to fool voters into giving him enough power to change Japan's hallowed pacifistic constitution.

They say with a majority in both houses, he will look to bolster the country's already-well equipped armed forces and switch their role from that of "self defence force" to

full-fledged military.

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