Nearly 70 percent of respondents to a weekend opinion poll say Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should heed the diplomatic implications of his visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine and expressed concerns about the provocative move, the results showed Sunday.
The nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday followed Abe’s Thursday visit to the Shinto shrine, which was the spiritual backbone of the war and honors Japan’s war dead, including Class-A war criminals. Predictably, the visit angered China and South Korea, which were liberated from Imperial Japanese militarism at great cost.
Phone calls were made to 1,429 households with eligible voters and drew 1,013 valid responses.
According to the results, 69.8 percent think Abe should take diplomatic relations into consideration when deciding whether to visit the contentious shrine, versus 25.3 percent who disagree.
Another 47.1 percent said it “was not good” to visit the shrine, compared with 43.2 percent who appreciated the act.
The visit has drawn criticism not only from South Korea and China, but also from Japan’s key ally, the United States. The U.S. State Department said it was “disappointed” to see Abe make the trip because it will exacerbate ongoing tensions with Seoul and Beijing.
According to the survey, 54.6 percent of the respondents support the idea of building a new facility to pay respects to the war dead, versus 32.9 percent who did not.
The approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet, meanwhile, stood at 55.2 percent, up a point from last week’s survey. Its disapproval rating stood at 32.6 percent, down slightly from 33.0 percent.
As for the Osprey, the tilt-rotor transport aircraft deployed to U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, 71.2 percent said local governments other than Okinawa should host military drills involving the odd-looking aircraft, which takes off and lands like a helicopter but can fly like a plane.
On the plan to move the Futenma base from Ginowan to the Henoko area of Nago, further north in Okinawa, 49.8 percent backed it and 33.6 percent did not.
By political party, Abe’s conservative Liberal Democratic Party garnered a support rating of 39.7 percent, up 3.5 points, while the largest opposition force, the Democratic Party of Japan, draw a support rating of 7.4 percent, up 1.3 points.
The Japanese Communist Party won 5.5 percent support, followed by the Japan Restoration Party at 5.0 percent, ruling coalition partner New Komeito at 4.8 percent, and Your Party at 1.7 percent.