National

57% against sending SDF to join U.S.-led maritime coalition in Mideast amid tensions with Iran: poll

62% concerned about future path of Japan-South Korea relations

Kyodo

Over half of voters oppose dispatching Self-Defense Forces personnel to the Middle East to join a U.S.-led coalition to protect shipping in the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with Iran, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

In the nationwide telephone poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, 57.1 percent said Japan should not send SDF forces to the region, while 28.2 percent said it should.

Japan is reluctant to send the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping lane through which around one-fifth of the world’s oil passes, out of concern that doing so could undermine its friendly ties with Iran.

The survey also showed that the approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rose to 50.3 percent, up 1.7 percentage points from the previous poll, conducted in July. The disapproval rate stood at 34.6 percent, down 3.6 points.

Regarding the country’s deteriorating relations with South Korea, 62.4 percent said they were concerned about the future path of bilateral relations, while 32.4 percent said they were not.

Bilateral relations have fallen to the lowest point in years since South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese companies to compensate victims of forced labor during Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

The Japanese government placed new restrictions on technology exports to South Korea on July 1, citing “significant damage to the relationship of mutual trust.”

As for the government’s plan to raise the consumption tax to 10 percent in October from the current 8 percent, 51.3 percent opposed the plan, down from 55.9 percent in the previous survey, while 43.3 percent expressed support, up from 39.8 percent last month.