• Kyodo

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A majority of Japanese think the government’s aid for Middle Eastern countries fighting the Islamic State group should be limited to nonmilitary support, a Kyodo News poll showed Saturday.

The nationwide survey conducted via telephone on Friday and Saturday showed 57.9 percent of the respondents said Japan’s support should be nonmilitary, while 16.6 percent said it should include logistical support to the U.S.-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

The approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet stood at 54.2 percent, up 1.4 percentage points from the previous survey on Jan. 25.

The survey comes a week after Islamic State militants posted an online video showing the group had killed a Japanese hostage. The group criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who earlier had pledged $200 million in humanitarian aid for countries fighting the Islamic State group.

The Abe government has dismissed the possibility that Japanese troops will offer logistical support.

Some 11.2 percent in the survey said Japan should provide financial aid for the coalition’s military operations against Islamic State militants, with 2.8 percent supporting Japan’s direct involvement in such attacks.

As for the planned $200 million in aid, 53.8 percent said it should be provided as announced, with 18.0 percent saying the amount should be reduced, and 14.6 percent calling for the aid to be canceled.

Some 60.8 percent supported the Abe government’s handling of the hostage crisis, little changed from 60.6 percent in the previous survey.

The hostage crisis began with the release of a video on Jan. 20 in which the militant group threatened to kill two Japanese hostages unless Tokyo paid $200 million in ransom within 72 hours. On Jan. 24, an image was posted online appearing to show that one of the hostages had been killed.

By political party, Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 39.0 percent, down from 39.6 percent in the last survey, while 7.4 percent backed the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, down from 8.1 percent. A total of 38.2 percent said they did not support any particular party.

The survey was conducted by randomly calling selected households. It contacted 1,438 households with eligible voters, and got valid responses from 1,015 people.

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