National / Politics

Abe Cabinet disapproval rating tops support for first time: poll

Kyodo

Disapproval of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet exceeded its support rating in a Kyodo News poll for the first time since he returned to power in December 2012, and just weeks before the House of Representatives election, the latest data showed Saturday.

In the poll conducted Friday and Saturday, 47.3 percent of respondents expressed disapproval against 43.6 percent who backed the Abe Cabinet.

Yet when asked how they intended to vote in the Dec. 14 general election, 28.0 percent said they would still support Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the proportional representation bloc, up 2.7 percentage points from the previous poll carried out from Nov. 19 to 20.

Another 10.3 percent said they would vote for the largest opposition group, the Democratic Party of Japan, up a mere 0.9 point, and a hefty 41.2 percent said they had yet to decide which party to support.

In the previous poll, support for Abe’s Cabinet stood at 47.4 percent and the disapproval rating at 44.1 percent. According to the latest data, the disapproval rating rose among respondents who do not back any particular party.

The new poll also showed that 53.0 percent of the respondents hope the election will bring about a more balanced distribution of seats between the ruling and opposition blocs, a rise of 1.6 points from the previous survey.

Before the powerful House of Representatives was dissolved by Abe last week for a snap election, the ruling LDP-Komeito coalition held 326 of the chamber’s 480 seats. Opposition parties and independent lawmakers accounted for the remaining 154 seats. These figures included the Lower House speaker and vice speaker from the ruling and opposition camps, respectively, who had to leave their parties while serving in the posts.

Only 475 seats will be up for grabs in the upcoming election, as the number will be reduced as part of an overhaul to address vote weight disparities.

Asked about specific issues, 84.2 percent of the respondents said they do not feel the economy has improved under the prime minister’s “Abenomics” policies.

On the Cabinet’s security policy, including its reinterpretation of the pacifist Constitution to allow Japan to exercise the right to collective self-defense, 53.3 percent said they opposed the move.

As for the most issue they considered most important in next month’s election, 35.1 percent cited economic policy in deciding which candidate or party to back, followed by 27.4 who nominated social security, 10.4 percent who opted for fiscal rehabilitation, 8.2 percent who picked nuclear power and energy policy, and 4.1 percent who chose constitutional amendment.

The survey was conducted by phoning 1,743 randomly selected households with eligible voters, of whom 1,206 provided valid answers.

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