The government’s handling of the ongoing Japanese hostage crisis was supported by 60.6 percent in a Kyodo News poll conducted Sunday.

In the nationwide telephone survey, 31.2 percent opposed the government’s response to the crisis. The survey was conducted after an image was released online Saturday, purportedly showing that one of the two Japanese men held by a group believed to be Islamic State had been killed.

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet stood at 52.8 percent, compared with 53.5 percent in the previous poll in December, while the disapproval rate was down 3.0 percentage points at 31.9 percent.

In the survey, 52.2 percent supported Abe’s farming reforms aimed at overhauling the umbrella organization for agricultural groups across the country and giving regional cooperatives more freedom in their operations, while 26.0 percent were opposed.

During a regular Diet session to be convened Monday, the deliberations on related bills are likely to draw attention as the umbrella organization JA-Zenchu, or the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, opposes the planned reforms.

Regarding the leadership election of the Democratic Party of Japan earlier this month, 34.4 percent said they had hopes for new leader Katsuya Okada, while 54.1 percent said they expected little.

On the government’s plan to submit during the regular Diet session security-related bills to legalize Japan’s exercise of the right to collective self-defense, 50.7 percent said the government should take time before doing so.

In the poll, 21.0 percent viewed government submission of the bills as appropriate, while 20.6 percent said such legislative work is not necessary.

Legislative work to enable the Self-Defense Forces to defend allies under armed attack in collective self-defense is in preparation after Abe’s Cabinet last July approved a reinterpretation of the Constitution to allow the use of force in collective self-defense if three conditions are met.

The survey was conducted by calling 1,153 randomly selected households with eligible voters, of whom 814 gave valid responses.

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