TOKYO -- The public is generally skeptical of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to permit a larger military role for Japan, with his planned steps toward enhanced defense powers attracting more naysayers than proponents in the latest Nikkei survey.
Asked whether the government should allow the country to exercise the right to collective self-defense, or use force to rescue allies under attack, just 34% said it should, while 50% opposed it, according to the poll conducted Friday through Sunday.
Abe's attempt to expand defense powers by adopting a new interpretation of the constitution rather than going through a proper legal procedure of amending the charter was not well-received either, with 54% disapproving of the move, outstripping the 29% endorsing it.
The Abe government also hopes to let the Self-Defense Forces use force in multilateral operations designed to counter aggressor states under United Nations resolutions. On this, 50% objected to the plan, while 35% supported it.
The government plans to adopt a new legal interpretation of Japan's pacifist charter via a cabinet decision Tuesday, but the poll indicates the public is not fully behind the move.
At 53%, public support for the Abe cabinet remained unchanged from May. But the disapproval rating rose 4 percentage points to 36%, the highest since Abe took power in December 2012.
Asked why they supported the cabinet, 35%, the highest percentage, named stability. Among those not supporting the cabinet, 41% cited bad policies, up 3 points, outnumbering the 37% refusing to back a Liberal Democratic Party-led government.
Abe's growth strategy, which aims to revitalize the economy through corporate tax cuts and deregulation, was backed by 46% of respondents -- far more than the 29% who did not like the initiatives.
A total of 1,640 households with at least one eligible voter were contacted via random-digit dialing, with 1,029, or 62.7%, supplying valid responses.