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Support for Abe Cabinet slides to 70.9%: poll

Kyodo

Public support for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has weakened but remains strong at 70.9 percent, compared with 72.1 percent last month, a Kyodo News survey said Sunday.

It was the fourth time the Cabinet’s rating has topped 70 percent in the monthly poll since Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party returned to power in December. The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile rose slightly to 16.2 percent, up 0.2 point from the April 20-21 survey.

The nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday drew valid responses from 1,022 eligible voters.

Asked who they intend to vote for in the proportional representation section of the Upper House election this summer, 5.7 percent said they would vote for Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), down 2.8 points, and 6.8 percent said they will vote for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, up 1 point.

Nippon Ishin’s slide to third place came after coleader Toru Hashimoto, Osaka’s mayor, drew sharp attacks at home and abroad with his controversial remarks about Imperial Japan’s wartime sex slavery system.

Hashimoto said the system of sexual servitude was considered necessary during wartime and snidely suggested that U.S. servicemen in Japan make use of Japan’s legal sex industry to reduce their chances of committing sexual offenses against residents.

Hashimoto’s comments on whether the sex slave system was needed were widely construed by the media as his personal opinion. He later said he had been misinterpreted because he’d never said “I,” a pronoun often skipped in Japanese because it’s understood.

Topping the proportional representation query, with 44.4 percent, was Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, up 1.9 points, the survey said.

On an issue-by-issue basis, the survey said 54.3 percent oppose restarting nuclear reactors, even if they pass the new nuclear safety requirements, against 37.2 percent who expressed support.

On Japan’s nuclear power plant exports, 46.2 percent were opposed, compared with 41.0 percent who expressed support.

Asked about Abe’s handling of the economy, 67.6 percent said it was going smoothly, compared with 26.9 percent expressing negative views.

On the controversial proposal to revise Article 96 of the Constitution to ease the criteria for amending it, 48.6 percent are against the proposal and 41.5 percent support it.

As for the debut of online campaigning, 43.7 percent said they would tap the Internet once the ban is lifted for the House of Councilors election, compared with 53.6 percent who said they would not.

As for public support for the parties themselves, the LDP drew 48.5 percent, up 4.4 points and the highest since it logged 49.2 percent in September 2006, immediately after Abe set up his first Cabinet.

The DPJ followed with 5.9 percent, up 0.1 point, while Nippon Ishin secured 4.8 percent, down 0.7 point.

Support for New Komeito, the LDP’s ruling coalition partner, stood at 3.2 percent, while the opposition Your Party secured 4.4 percent and the Japanese Communist Party 2.8 percent.