• Kyodo

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Only 35.4 percent of the public support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet reshuffle conducted Wednesday, while 40.1 percent do not, a Kyodo News poll showed Thursday.

Support for Abe’s Cabinet, however, rose 5.9 percentage points from September to 44.8 percent. The disapproval rating stood at 41.2 percent, meaning the support rate once again exceeds the disapproval rate.

A majority of 64.9 percent said they do not expect the Japanese economy to pick up through Abe’s updated economic policies that aim to drastically boost nominal gross domestic product, while 26.5 percent said the economy will improve.

The survey covered 1,450 randomly selected households with eligible voters, with valid responses from 1,013 people.

Abe, who became prime minister for the second time in December 2012 with a pledge to lift Japan out of deflation, has been pursuing policies dubbed “Abenomics” that feature aggressive monetary easing, massive fiscal spending and structural reforms to raise the country’s growth potential.

New policies unveiled last month include expanding Japan’s nominal GDP from ¥490 trillion to ¥600 trillion by around 2020 and raising the fertility rate from 1.4 to 1.8 by around 2025.

Respondents were split over the appointment of Katsunobu Kato, previously the deputy chief Cabinet secretary, to a new ministerial post to push Abe’s new policies for dealing with Japan’s declining birthrate and graying society. The poll found 48.1 percent do not expect much of the appointment, while 44.8 percent think otherwise.

On the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal recently struck by 12 Pacific Rim countries, including Japan and the United States, 58.0 percent expressed support while 32.2 percent said they do not view it positively.

Regarding security legislation enacted last month to allow the Self-Defense Forces to play an expanded role overseas, 78.6 percent said they do not think the Abe administration has sufficiently explained the significance of the law, while 17.6 percent said they think it has.

Asked what areas the new Cabinet should prioritize, 44.7 percent cited economic policies such as improving business and employment conditions, 42.4 percent pointed to social security, including pension and measures to counter the low birthrate, and 7.3 percent referred to revising the Constitution.

By political party, the Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 36.8 percent, up 4 percentage points from the September poll, while 10.4 percent backed the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, up 0.9 point. The survey found 35 percent of respondents do not support any particular party.

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