• Kyodo


The public approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has climbed to 57.7 percent, up slightly from 56.2 percent in July, a survey said Sunday.

The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile fell to 25.6 percent, down from 31.7 percent the previous month, it said.

In a nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday by Kyodo News, 29.1 percent of the respondents said the consumption tax rate should remain at 5 percent, rather than being raised to 8 percent next April as scheduled.

Meanwhile, 22.7 percent said the tax hike should be delayed, 22.5 percent said it should be raised as scheduled, and 22.0 percent said the margin of the increase should be narrowed, suggesting the public is divided on the issue.

Abe is expected to make a final decision on whether to let the tax rate rise in April as planned before the Diet convenes for an extraordinary session in mid-October.

On the controversial issue of whether to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, 47.4 percent were opposed.

Abe is eager to lift the nation’s self-imposed ban on collective self-defense by changing the government’s interpretation of the Constitution.

Successive governments have maintained that Japan cannot exercise the right because Article 9 of the Constitution limits the use of force to the minimum necessary to defend the country and bans the use of force to settle international disputes.

Of the respondents, 24.1 percent said exercising the right should be enabled by revising the Constitution, while 20.0 percent said it should be enabled by changing the government’s interpretation of the supreme code.

On Abe’s decision not to visit war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II and to send a ritual offering instead as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 62.2 percent said it was appropriate and 26.0 percent said it was not.

The prime minister avoided visiting the Shinto facility, which honors Class-A war criminals along with the nation’s war dead, to avoid worsening severely strained ties with China and South Korea.

In the survey, 45.5 percent said the prime minister should decide whether to visit Yasukuni regardless of the state of Japan’s ties with China and South Korea, while 28.0 percent said restraint was the best option to avoid harming diplomatic ties.

A total of 19.8 percent said that prime ministers ought to visit Yasukuni no matter what.

On the economy, 17.9 percent said they believe Japan has been recovering under Abe’s unorthodox strategy, while 77.9 percent said they do not believe so.

As for the outlook for Japan’s economy, 30.7 percent said they expect conditions to improve and 58.9 percent said they do not.

Asked about Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, 78.0 percent expressed support while 19.1 percent were opposed.

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