Support for Abe Cabinet edges down to 70.9%: Kyodo poll

Support for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has edged down but remains high at 70.9 percent, compared with 72.1 percent in the previous poll last month, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

It was the fourth time that the Cabinet approval rating has topped 70 percent in the monthly surveys since Abe's Liberal Democratic Party came to power in December.

The disapproval rating, meanwhile, stood at 16.2 percent, up 0.2 percentage point from the previous survey conducted on April 20 and 21.

The latest nationwide telephone survey, conducted on Saturday and Sunday, received responses from 1,022 eligible voters.

Asked which party they will vote for in the proportional representation section of the upper house election this summer, 5.7 percent of the respondents said they would support the Japan Restoration Party, down 2.8 points, compared with 6.8 percent who will vote for the opposition Democratic Party of Japan, up 1.0 point.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party secured the highest support rating at 44.4 percent, up 1.9 points, according to the survey.

The Japan Restoration Party's drop to third place came after Toru Hashimoto, the party's co-leader and Osaka mayor, was harshly attacked at home and abroad over his controversial remarks about wartime sex slavery.

Hashimoto said the system of sexual servitude was considered necessary during wartime, while suggesting U.S. servicemen in Japan should use the country's adult entertainment industry to prevent them from committing sexual offenses against local people.

The survey also showed 54.3 percent oppose restarting idled nuclear reactors even after the government confirms their safety, against 37.2 percent who expressed support.

On nuclear power plant exports by Japan, 46.2 percent were opposed, compared with 41.0 percent who expressed support.

Asked about Abe's handling of the economy, 67.6 percent of the respondents said it was going smoothly, far exceeding the 26.9 percent who expressed negative views.

On the controversial proposal to revise Article 96 of the Constitution to ease the criteria for constitutional amendments, 48.6 percent opposed the proposal while 41.5 percent expressed support.

In the survey, 43.7 percent said they would refer to information on the Internet once the ban on online election campaigning is lifted for the upcoming House of Councillors election, against 53.6 percent who said they would not.

As for party approval ratings, the LDP secured 48.5 percent support, up 4.4 points and the highest level since the party marked 49.2 percent support in September 2006, immediately after the launch of Abe's first Cabinet.

The DPJ followed at 5.9 percent, up 0.1 point, while the Japan Restoration Party secured 4.8 percent support, down 0.7 point.

Support for the New Komeito party, the LDP's ruling coalition partner, stood at 3.2 percent, while the opposition Your Party secured 4.4 percent and the Japanese Communist Party 2.8 percent.