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The Cabinet of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi maintains a super-high public approval rating of 85.9 percent despite recent controversies surrounding Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, according to an opinion poll released by Kyodo News on Monday.

What’s more, Kyodo said 86.8 percent of the pollees positively evaluate Tanaka’s performance.

The foreign minister has made headlines for controversial remarks she has reportedly made on key diplomatic issues and for her run-ins with ministry bureaucrats.

More than half of the respondents said Tanaka should not be discouraged by criticism over her confrontations with elite Foreign Ministry bureaucrats.

Tanaka has come under fire from the opposition and forces within her own Liberal Democratic Party in recent weeks for reported comments criticizing U.S. missile defense plans and raising doubts over Japan’s security alliance with the U.S. — a position that contradicts the government’s official policy.

However, 63 percent of the pollees said such remarks may be inappropriate coming from a Cabinet member, but “would be all right if she was making the statements as her personal opinion,” according to Kyodo.

Kyodo polled 1,006 randomly selected eligible voters nationwide over the telephone on Saturday and Sunday.

The 85.9 support rate for Koizumi is slightly higher than 85.4 percent found in Kyodo’s previous poll in mid-May. Only 5.9 percent said they do not support the Koizumi Cabinet.

Asked why they support Koizumi in a multiple-choice questionnaire, 27.6 percent — the largest group — said they expect him to carry out political reform, followed by 21.1 percent who said they trust the prime minister, and 17.7 percent who cited Koizumi’s leadership. In the latest poll, Koizumi’s Liberal Democratic Party enjoyed support from 40.6 percent of the respondents, far outperforming the 9.6 percent for the largest opposition Democratic Party of Japan.

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