Abe Cabinet's approval rating soars to 72.8%: latest poll


The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet has risen 6.1 percentage points to 72.8 percent, exceeding the 70 percent threshold for the first time since the failed Democratic Party of Japan administration was launched in September 2009, a survey showed Sunday.

The Cabinet’s disapproval rating came to just 16.2 percent, according to its findings.

The poll, conducted over the weekend, also revealed that 63.0 percent of the respondents backed Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks, a 10-point spike since the previous survey in January.

The mounting support for joining the TPP negotiations was attributed to the agreement jointly announced Friday by Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama, under which Japan will not have to pledge to abolish all trade tariffs if it takes part in the multilateral discussions. Abe had previously vowed that Japan would not enter the negotiations if it were first required to end all import tariffs without exception.

Among TPP proponents, 59.2 percent said it is essential for Japan to join the Pacific Rim initiative so it can benefit from the global expansion of free-trade deals, while 43.0 percent believed the move would increase exports and allow Japanese companies to better compete with their global rivals, according to the survey.

Among those who remained opposed to the TPP, 45.4 percent were concerned about the negative impact on the nation’s agriculture industry and environment, and 39.7 percent said the anticipated rush of cheap farm imports would damage small and midsize farming businesses.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that 34.2 percent of those who supported the Abe Cabinet also believed its drastic economic policies are necessary.

By party, Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party was backed by 46.9 percent of the respondents, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) by 8.3 percent, New Komeito — the LDP’s junior partner in the ruling coalition — by 5.5 percent, Your Party by 3.0 percent, the Japanese Communist Party by 2.2 percent, the Social Democratic Party by 1.0 percent and Seikatsu no To (Lifestyle Party) by 0.8 percent.

The support rate for the Democratic Party of Japan, whose three-year term in office came to an abrupt end in the Dec. 16 Lower House election, stood at a mere 6.0 percent, the lowest level since the party’s launch in 1998.

Around 25.1 percent of those canvassed said they do not support a specific party.

Asked who they intend to vote for in the House of Councilors election this summer, 41.7 percent said will support the LDP while 9.5 percent plan to back Nippon Ishin. Only 6.1 percent intend to cast their ballot for the DPJ, the survey found.

On Japan’s self-imposed ban on exercising the right to collective self-defense, 48.8 percent of the respondents approved of the restriction, against 43.4 percent who believed the nation should be allowed to come to the defense of an ally under armed attack.

On Japan’s potential responses to North Korea’s latest nuclear test, 61.5 percent said the government needs to increase political and economic pressure on Pyongyang, far exceeding the 33.5 percent who opted for dialogue with Kim Jong Un’s regime, the survey found.