• Kyodo


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has the highest support rate ahead of the Upper House election in July, far eclipsing that of the nearest opposition party, a Kyodo News survey showed Thursday.

In a two-day telephone poll conducted from Wednesday, 28.8 percent said they would vote for the LDP when casting their ballots under proportional representation. The ruling party was followed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan with 9.0 percent.

Komeito, which forms the ruling bloc with the LDP, garnered 5.6 percent, while the Japanese Communist Party had 3.4 percent followed by Nippon Ishin no Kai at 3.2 percent, the Democratic Party for the People at 1.6 percent and the Social Democratic Party at 1.2 percent.

Respondents who were undecided stood at 39.2 percent.

In the poll, 31.3 percent said they would vote for the ruling coalition of the LDP and Komeito, while 20.3 percent said they would vote for the opposition as their electoral district representatives.

The survey results come a day after the House of Councilors election was set for July 21 with a turnover of half of its members, or 124 seats, up for grabs. Voters will cast two ballots — one to choose electoral district representatives and one under proportional representation — following the official campaign period from July 4.

In the survey, 59.7 percent said they were either “very interested” or “have some interest” in the election.

The approval rate for the Abe Cabinet stood at 47.6 percent, while the disapproval rate was at 44.1 percent.

Among key issues expected in the election is the future of the war-renouncing Constitution.

Abe has been strongly pushing for its amendment arguing that the Self-Defense Forces must play a more active role in an increasingly challenging security environment. Should his ruling bloc gain a two-thirds majority in the Upper House, as it has in the Lower House, Abe will be able to initiate a national referendum on the subject.

Kyodo News’ poll found that 50.1 percent opposed amending the Constitution while 35.0 percent supported it.

Another issue that may come into play is a controversial pension report that raised concerns about the country’s public pension system. In the survey, 50.1 percent said that the report and the government’s handling of it should be a point of contention, while 43.0 percent did not.

The report compiled by a Financial Services Agency panel estimates that an average retired couple would face a shortfall of ¥20 million ($186,000) under the current pension system if they live to be 95 years old.

Finance Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as minister for financial services, refused to accept it, saying the panel’s estimate contradicted the government’s view that the pension system serves as the basis of household finances during post-retirement years.

Regarding Abenomics, the prime minister’s signature economic policy mix, 64.1 percent want it to be reviewed while 26.7 percent want it to be continued as it is.

Although the nation’s gross domestic product data have shown growth at an annualized real 2.2 percent in the January-March quarter, many analysts believe the economy is not as strong as it seems and could lose momentum, citing exports hurt by the U.S.-China trade spat.

Abe decided to raise the consumption tax from the current 8 percent to 10 percent in October, a move that could dampen consumer spending. As for the decision, 51.1 percent were against the tax plan while 44.7 percent supported it.

The prime minister’s foreign policy met approval from 52.3 percent and disapproval from 38.4 percent of respondents.

The survey covered 2,361 randomly selected households with eligible voters via random-digit dialing and received responses from 1,229 people.

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