Support for Abe Cabinet at 57.7%: Kyodo poll

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet stands at 57.7 percent, up slightly from 56.2 percent in July, while the disapproval rating stands at 25.6 percent, down from 31.7 percent in the previous month, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

In the nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday, 29.1 percent of respondents said the consumption tax rate should remain at 5 percent, rather than being raised to 8 percent next April as scheduled.

Meanwhile, 22.7 percent said the planned sales tax hike should be delayed, 22.5 percent said the tax should be raised as scheduled and 22.0 percent said the margin of the tax increase should be narrowed, suggesting the general public is divided on the issue.

Abe is expected to make a final decision on whether to raise the consumption tax rate next April before the Diet convenes an extraordinary session in mid-October.

On the controversial issue of whether to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense, 47.4 percent expressed opposition.

Abe is eager to lift Japan's self-imposed ban on the right to exercise collective self-defense by changing the current government interpretation of the Constitution.

Successive governments have maintained that Japan cannot exercise the right to collective self-defense because doing so would exceed the minimum necessary to defend itself, as permitted under the pacifist Constitution.

Of the respondents, 24.1 percent said exercising the right should be allowed by revising the Constitution, while 20.0 percent said it should be allowed through changing the constitutional interpretation.

On Abe's decision not to visit the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II and to send a ritual offering instead in his capacity as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 62.2 percent said it was appropriate, while 26.0 percent said it was not appropriate.

The prime minister avoided visiting the shrine that honors war criminals along with the war dead in an apparent effort to mend ties with China and South Korea.

In the survey, 45.5 percent said a Japanese prime minister should decide whether to visit Yasukuni irrespective of the nation's relations with China and South Korea, while 28.0 percent said a leader should refrain from going to the shrine so as not to harm diplomatic ties.

A total of 19.8 percent said a prime minister should visit Yasukuni.

On the economy, 17.9 percent said they believe the Japanese economy has been recovering thanks to Abe's policies, while 77.9 percent said they do not believe so.

As for the economic outlook, 30.7 percent said they expect economic conditions to improve, while 58.9 percent said they do not.

Asked about Tokyo's bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, 78.0 percent expressed support while 19.1 percent were opposed.