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Politics

Half of Japanese electorate gives Abe government thumbs down

TOKYO -- Shinzo Abe has suffered his first upset in public opinion polls since returning to the prime minister's office in 2012 as a majority of eligible voters oppose legislation to broaden the country's defense powers, a weekend survey by Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo finds.

     The cabinet's disapproval rating climbed 10 percentage points from June to 50%, the highest to date, topping its approval rating for the first time. The approval rating slipped 9 points to a new low of 38%.

     Fifty-seven percent of respondents oppose passing the controversial national security legislation in the current parliamentary session, more than double the 26% favoring enactment. A full 81% say the government has not made an adequate case for the legislation, while just 7% feel satisfied in this regard. Even among supporters of the bills, 69% say they are dissatisfied with the government's explanation. Opposition to engaging in collective self-defense -- coming to the aid of allies under fire -- rose 3 points to 59%.

     Support for Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party fell 2 points to 36%. The main opposition Democratic Party of Japan gained 3 points, rising to 11%. The proportion of respondents describing themselves as independents remained flat at 36%.

     Opinion on restarting idled nuclear power plants was mostly unchanged, with 31% in support against 56% opposed. Kyushu Electric Power has sought final approval to start up the No. 1 reactor at its Sendai facility in Kagoshima Prefecture, which may go back online as early as next month. This would be the first unit to restart under safety standards adopted after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.

     Nikkei Research took the poll from Friday to Sunday by random-digit dialing. The response rate came to 72.2%, with 1,034 of 1,432 households contacted participating.

(Nikkei)

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