Abe Cabinet approval rate rises to 72%

Sixty per cent of Japanese support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade negotiations, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

However, 62 per cent of respondents said rice and some agricultural products should be excluded from tariff elimination if the nation joins the TPP talks, it said.

The survey, conducted from Friday through Sunday, covered 1,700 households with eligible voters using a random telephone dialing method. A total of 1,053 people, or 62 per cent, gave valid responses.

The approval rating of the Abe Cabinet rose to 72 per cent, up one percentage point from the previous survey conducted from Feb. 8 to 10, it said.

It is rare for a cabinet's approval rating to rise for the third consecutive month since its launch.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu, which was launched in 1989, is the only previous example, according to past surveys conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The continuing high approval rating of the Abe Cabinet indicates the government has won wide public support for the prime minister's Abenomics economic policy, observers said.

The government's policy to boost economic growth through strengthened ties with the Bank of Japan won the backing of 69 per cent of respondents.

Fifty-six per cent supported the appointment of Haruhiko Kuroda, president of the Asian Development Bank, as Bank of Japan governor.

On measures to redress vote-value disparities in some constituencies in House of Representatives elections, which courts have ruled as unconstitutional, 72 per cent said the current electoral system should be radically reformed.

On this issue, 15 per cent supported the scrapping of five single-seat constituencies to reduce the number of lower house seats by five.

Asked which parties they support, 45 per cent said they backed the Liberal Democratic Party, up from 42 per cent in the previous survey.

The Democratic Party of Japan was favoured by 5 per cent, down from 6 per cent, followed by New Komeito at 4 per cent, up from 2 per cent and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) at 2 per cent, down from 5 per cent.

To a question on which party they would vote for in the proportional representation section of the House of Councillors election, 43 per cent chose the LDP, up from 42 per cent in the previous survey, followed by Nippon Ishin no Kai at 9 per cent (down from 13 per cent) and the DPJ at 7 per cent (unchanged).

Fifty-four per cent of respondents said they wanted the LDP and Komeito to obtain a majority of seats in the upper house election in summer, up from 52 per cent.

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