A national opinion poll conducted by Kyodo News on Saturday and Sunday showed that 58.4 percent of voters are opposed to the dispatch of a Maritime Self-Defense Force unit to the Middle East, while 34.4 percent supported the effort.

The result is likely to give more ammunition to opposition lawmakers during the upcoming ordinary Diet session, which starts on Jan. 20, as some have criticized Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the plan to send MSDF personnel to the region amid high tensions between Iran and the U.S. The two nations are at loggerheads over various issues, including Tehran's nuclear program and the economic sanctions Washington imposed against the Middle Eastern nation.

Abe was in Riyadh on Sunday as part of his five-day diplomatic tour of the region to discuss ways to ease tensions there.