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Politics

Majority favor Japan's ruling camp in upper house race: Nikkei poll

Nearly half support unconditional talks between Abe and North Korea's Kim

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks at a Liberal Democratic Party rally in his constituency of Yamaguchi in western Japan.    © Kyodo

TOKYO -- More than half of Japanese voters want Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling coalition to retain control of the upper house of parliament in elections set for July 21, the latest Nikkei/TV Tokyo survey finds.

A continued majority for the Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner Komeito was preferred by 55% of respondents, while 34% favored a different outcome.

Holding on to the majority is key to Abe's goal of amending Article 9 of Japan's pacifist constitution to enshrine the role of the Self-Defense Forces.

The poll also found that 46% would support Abe meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un without any preconditions, against 37% who would opposed such a summit.

Younger generations showed greater backing for Abe's upper house majority, which drew support from 68% of those under 40 compared with just 47% of those 60 and older.

A two-thirds majority in both houses of parliament is needed to initiate constitutional amendments. As to whether they favor pro-amendment lawmakers maintaining a two-thirds majority in the upper chamber, 45% agreed and 39% opposed.

Support for amending the constitution appears to be waning in general, with 37% for and 45% against -- roughly a reversal in public opinion from May 2017.

The LDP remained the most popular pick in the upper house parliamentary election, with 44% saying they wanted to vote for a candidate from Abe's party. The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party garnered only 14%.

Japan's social welfare system was the top election issue for poll respondents in a multiple-choice question, following a recent report by a Financial Services Agency panel that estimated Japanese couples will be short 20 million yen ($185,000) in their retirement. The controversial finding was later shelved.

Overall, 62% of respondents thought individuals should make up for the retirement shortfall themselves through investments and other means, while just 24% wanted to increase pension payments even if it meant higher taxes and premiums. Younger respondents leaned more heavily toward personal responsibility for old-age savings.

The poll was conducted through random-digit dialing from Friday to Sunday. It received 936 responses from those 18 or older.

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