The public appears divided over whether to raise the consumption tax to 8 percent next April, with a new survey showing 46.8 percent in favor and 50 percent opposed.

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is expected to approve the first stage of doubling the 5 percent levy early next month, saw his Cabinet's approval rating climb to 61.8 percent from 57.7 percent in August, and its disapproval rating recede to 20.4 percent from 25.6 percent, the results of the nationwide telephone survey said Sunday.

The second stage of the tax hike will raise it to 10 percent by October 2015.