/

Cabinet see support rating rise to 49.4%

Kyodo

The support rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands at 49.4 percent, up 1.1 points from the previous survey carried out in November, an opinion poll said Sunday.

The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile stood at 38.2 percent, down 2.2 points.

In the Kyodo News telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday across Japan, 73.7 percent said they do not feel economic conditions have improved since the launch of Abe’s government three years ago, while 23.6 percent said the economy has improved due to his “Abenomics” policy of radical monetary easing, fiscal spending and vows of structural reform.

The poll also found that 50 percent oppose the looming second phase of the consumption tax hike scheduled for April 2017 while 46.5 percent support it, with 49.2 percent backing the government’s decision to exempt food and 45.5 percent opposed. No margin of error was given.

To ease the impact of the tax hike on low-income households, the government has decided to exempt newspaper subscriptions and all food except restaurant meals when the tax rate is finally doubled to 10 percent. In the first stage in April 2014, it was hiked to the current 8 percent from 5 percent.

Of the respondents, 59.2 percent said the government should decide early on on ways to make up for the revenue loss resulting from the planned tax exemptions.

The exemptions will reduce state revenue by around ¥1 trillion annually and the government must find financial resources to compensate for the loss by the end of fiscal 2016.

Asked about the idea of holding a Lower House election at the same time as the Upper House election scheduled for next summer, 49.4 percent supported it while 41.1 percent said it should be avoided.

In the survey, 51.3 percent supported allowing married couples to use separate surnames, with 42.4 percent opposed. The Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that requiring couples to use the same surname is constitutional.

Regarding increased defense spending in the fiscal 2016 budget, 42.7 percent expressed support but 50.4 percent were opposed.

Under the budget approved by the Cabinet on Thursday, defense expenditure will rise for the fourth consecutive year to top ¥5 trillion for the first time, with the aim of enhancing Japan’s defense capabilities amid concerns about China’s increasing assertiveness in regional waters.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 36.9 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the previous month, and 9.7 percent backed the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, down 0.5 point, while 36.8 percent did not support any particular party.

The survey covered 1,443 randomly selected households nationwide with eligible voters, with valid responses collected from 1,014 people.