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50% against hiking sales tax in April: poll

Kyodo

The public appears divided over whether to raise the consumption tax to 8 percent next April, with a new survey showing 46.8 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is expected to approve the first stage of doubling the 5 percent levy early next month, saw his Cabinet’s approval rating climb to 61.8 percent from 57.7 percent in August, and its disapproval rating recede to 20.4 percent from 25.6 percent, the results of the nationwide telephone survey said Sunday.

The second stage of the tax hike will raise it to 10 percent by October 2015.

According to the weekend survey, the first carried out since Tokyo won the 2020 Summer Olympics, 85.6 percent praised the bid and 12.9 percent did not.

Asked what impact the Olympics might have on rebuilding areas in Tohoku hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, 28.2 percent said they expect progress, 30.9 percent said they would simply be left behind and 39.9 percent had no opinion.

On the Fukushima nuclear disaster, 75.8 percent said the government should take the lead in handling the situation, including the radioactive water leaks, while 9.3 percent said plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which shared cozy ties with the government for decades, should stay in control of the cleanup.

During the International Olympic Committee’s session in Buenos Aires to pick the host of the 2020 Games, Abe said: “I can assure you that there have never been, and will never be health problems” regarding the radioactive water leaks. But 64.4 percent of those polled said they couldn’t trust Abe, while 28.3 percent said they could.

On the other hand, 75.9 percent took a positive view of the government’s decision to earmark around ¥47 billion in taxpayer money to deal with the water crisis, while only 19.1 percent viewed the move negatively.

The survey received responses from 1,015 people in 1,435 households with eligible voters that answered the randomly dialed phone numbers, which excluded the evacuated parts of Fukushima Prefecture.