• Kyodo

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A survey showed Saturday that 63.7 percent of respondents are not refraining from spending despite the April 1 sales tax hike, while 34.8 percent said the rate’s increase to 8 percent from 5 percent has restrained their spending to some extent.

The survey also found that 67.5 percent voiced concerns about the future course of the economy following the tax hike.

In the nationwide telephone survey conducted by Kyodo News on Friday and Saturday, the approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stood at 59.8 percent, up 2.9 percentage points from the previous survey last month.

On the government controversially amending its interpretation of the Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, 52.1 percent of the respondents were opposed and 38.0 percent in favor.

For decades, the government has maintained that Japan has the right to collective self-defense but cannot exercise it due to limits imposed by Article 9 of the Constitution, which forbids the use of force to settle international disputes.

Concerning the government’s approval of a new national energy policy that backs the use of nuclear power, 53.8 percent expressed their opposition and 39.0 percent their support.

The Basic Energy Plan, approved by Abe’s Cabinet on Friday, sets the stage for the government to move ahead with restarting nuclear reactors, all of which are currently offline due to safety concerns. The new policy scrubbed a plan to completely phase out atomic power by the previous Democratic Party of Japan government, in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdowns.

Further, the survey showed that 86.1 percent are not satisfied with former Your Party head Yoshimi Watanabe’s explanation of his money scandal. Watanabe resigned as head of the minor opposition party to take responsibility for unreported loans from a corporate executive totaling ¥800 million.

Some 83.1 percent said stricter regulations on political funds are necessary.

In the survey, 1,450 households with eligible voters were contacted by phone, drawing 1,021 valid responses.

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