National / Politics

Cabinet's support rating jumps to 55.3% but Obama speech wows 98%: survey

Kyodo

The support rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has climbed 7 points since last month to 55.3 percent, according to a Kyodo News survey released Sunday.

The disapproval rating for the Cabinet stood at 33 percent, compared with 40.3 percent last month. The nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday covered 1,471 randomly selected households containing eligible voters nationwide, with valid responses collected from 1,026 people.

The survey also said an overwhelming 98 percent of respondents viewed U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Hiroshima on Friday positively. Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city since it was destroyed by the 1945 atomic bombing.

A total of 74.7 percent accepted the lack of an apology by Obama over the U.S. decision to drop atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, saying he “did not need to apologize,” while 18.3 percent said he “should have offered an apology.”

According to the survey, 70.9 percent support the idea of postponing the second stage of the sales tax hike scheduled for April 2017 but 24.7 percent do not and want it to go through as planned.

Abe reportedly told his aides Saturday evening that he plans to postpone the hike to 10 percent from 8 percent until October 2019.

As for the so-called Abenomics policy mix spearheaded by the prime minister to shore up the country’s economy, 64.1 percent cast doubt on its effectiveness, saying they do not think it will improve the economy.

On the Group of Seven summit hosted by Abe in Mie Prefecture last Thursday and Friday, 78.4 percent welcomed the results of the meeting, such as an accord to strengthen cooperation to spur the global economy.

However, 51.9 percent disagreed with Abe’s view that current global economic conditions appear similar to the situation before the 2008 collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., which triggered the global financial crisis.

In connection with the arrest of a civilian U.S. base worker in Okinawa over the death of a local woman, 71 percent said the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement should be revised, while 17.9 percent said a revision is not necessary.

SOFA defines the handling of U.S. base personnel in Japan. The 1960 accord has not posed any obstacles to investigations in the latest case but people in Okinawa complain it is overly protective of Americans, partly because it only requires suspects to cooperate with Japanese investigators on a voluntary basis in some cases.

Asked which party they will support in the proportional representation section of the House of Councilors’ election expected in July, 40.3 percent chose Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, up 7.2 points from the previous survey, and 10.6 percent selected the major opposition Democratic Party, down 1.6 points.

In the survey, the LDP was supported by 44.4 percent, up 7.2 points from the previous month, and the DP was backed by 8.7 percent, down 0.5 point, while 35.3 percent did not endorse a particular party.