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Survey finds 36% back Abe over ex-defense chief Shigeru Ishiba for LDP president

Kyodo

According to a Kyodo News poll released Sunday, just over 36 percent named Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who officially entered his party’s presidential election the same day, as the most suitable leader for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party ahead of the contest next month. His rival, Shigeru Ishiba, placed second.

The latest telephone poll, conducted over the weekend, showed that 36.3 percent said they support Abe as LDP leader, while 31.3 percent see Ishiba, a former defense minister, as the ideal leader.

Another 4.9 percent favor Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda, while 22.7 percent said none of them were suitable.

Noda, however, is unlikely to run as she has been struggling to secure support from 20 LDP lawmakers necessary to register her candidacy, people close to her said Sunday.

The approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet inched up 0.8 point to 44.2 percent from the previous survey in July, while the disapproval rating also rose 0.6 point to 42.4 percent, the poll showed.

The poll also found 49.0 percent oppose Abe’s intention to submit a bill to amend the Constitution to the extraordinary Diet session this autumn, as the LDP has proposed.

Abe and Ishiba hold different views on the issue. The prime minister has called for adding an explicit reference to the Self-Defense Forces in its war-renouncing Article 9 to end a debate deeming the SDF “unconstitutional,” while Ishiba insists that changes to Article 9 are not a priority issue, citing a lack of public understanding.

On daylight saving time, which organizers of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics are proposing, 61.8 percent said they are opposed to the idea while 30.8 percent support it, the poll showed.

As for the government’s plan to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture, which hosts the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, 44.3 percent expressed their opposition, while 40.3 percent supported the plan.

The poll was based on 514 voters reached through fixed telephone lines and an additional 513 via mobile phones.