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Politics

Abe regains support on pivot to economy

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe

TOKYO -- The approval rating of the cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recovered to 49% thanks to a renewed focus on the economy, a Nikkei Inc./TV Tokyo poll showed.

     The result, an 8-percentage-point improvement from late October, marked a return to approval levels last seen around May and June, before conflict escalated between the ruling and opposition parties over controversial security legislation. The disapproval rating declined 6 points to 36%.

     Voters praised the administration's economy-first approach since the October cabinet reshuffle. Measures aimed at boosting the economy lifted the cabinet's approval rating. Emergency measures announced Thursday to help all citizens fully contribute to society were supported by 44% of respondents, with 33% against.

     Abe has used dialogue between the government and industry to push the private sector for more aggressive wage hikes and capital spending. Some argue that this is an undesirable form of government intervention in business activity. More survey respondents were for this policy than against it, however, at 46% and 38%, respectively.

     The cabinet's approval rating had been dragged down by parliamentary debate over security bills. The legislation passed by the lower house in July and the upper house in September lets Japan come to the aid of allies under attack. The opposition had blasted the bills as unconstitutional. Support for the cabinet slid from 50% in May to 38% in July, then recovered briefly before dropping back down to 40% in September.

     Among those expressing approval of the cabinet, stability was the most commonly cited reason, given by 36% of supporters. This was followed by an international way of thinking at 32% and leadership at 31%.

     The poll also asked about tax breaks likely to be implemented when the sales tax is raised in April 2017. The list of reduced-tax items should include both fresh and processed foods, according to 66% of respondents. A much smaller 22% said just fresh foods should be covered.

     The random telephone survey conducted between Friday and Sunday canvassed 1,365 households with eligible voters, with 985 responding.

(Nikkei)

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