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Politics

Abe's approval rating holds steady at 56%

Adding mention of 'Self-Defense Forces' to constitution backed by 47%

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet has remained in the 50% range since September. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet came to 56% in the latest public opinion poll by Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo, roughly level from late January.

The cabinet's approval rating had slipped to 39% last July in the wake of questions surrounding the government's involvement in two school scandals, but has remained at the 50% level since September. Support among men rose 5 points to 64%, while support among women fell 4 points to 45%. Meanwhile, 36% do not support the cabinet, compared with 37% in the prior poll.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party is expected to propose constitutional amendments in four priority areas next month. One amendment would recognize the Self-Defense Forces by adding a provision to war-renouncing Article 9 without changing the existing text. Support for this plan -- which would establish the constitutional status of the SDF -- reached 47%, with 33% opposed. Article 9 prohibits Japan from waging war to settle international disputes and maintaining armed forces for that purpose.

Among LDP supporters, 67% were in favor of the proposed amendment and 17% against. Support for the measure came to 22% among backers of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, with 68% opposed. Unaffiliated respondents were divided, with 30% in favor and 30% opposed. Another 30% said they "can't decide" or were "not sure."

The nationwide telephone survey was conducted Friday through Sunday. Covering individuals 18 and older, it drew 972 respondents for a 45.7% response rate.

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