National / Politics

Survey finds Abe Cabinet support rate surges to 60.7%

Kyodo

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet got a huge boost this month, jumping nearly seven points to 60.7 percent, a monthly nationwide telephone survey shows.

The sharp uptick is the first time the support rate has topped 60 percent in a Kyodo News poll since October 2013, when it reached 60.7 percent. The survey was conducted Saturday and Sunday.

While the jump certainly improves on the 53.9 percent support rate logged in October, the Cabinet’s disapproval rating also fell, to 30.4 percent from 33.2 percent.

In a separate question about Japan’s contribution to maintaining the U.S. military deterrent in the country, 86.1 percent said it was not necessary for Japan to pay more.

The question came after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump complained during his election campaign that Tokyo has shouldered too little of the costs for stationing U.S. forces here. Trump said he would consider withdrawing them unless Japan coughed up more cash, raising concerns in Tokyo over the future of the bilateral alliance.

As for Japan’s pledge to cooperate in developing the Russian Far East in hopes of resolving the long-running dispute over Russian-held islands it claims, 53.2 percent said they opposed such economic cooperation and 36.6 percent were in favor.

Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Yamaguchi Prefecture on Dec. 15 and 16 to discuss the territorial dispute and economic cooperation.

In the survey, 58 percent said the government should not push a pension reform bill through the Diet during the current parliamentary session, which ends Wednesday, while 33.8 percent said it should.

Abe’s government is expected to extend the current Diet session to get key bills including one on pension reform, passed.

The pension reform bill, introducing a so-called macroeconomic slide mechanism, will allow benefits to be reduced in line with wage declines as part of steps to deal with deteriorating pension system finances.

The telephone survey covered 1,462 randomly selected households with eligible voters and valid responses were collected from 1,022 people.