Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is still riding waves of popularity despite opposition to his policies on taxes, nuclear energy and defense, recent opinion polls show.
The hawkish leader racked up 59 percent of support, rising 3 percentage points from last month, in a joint survey by the Nikkei and TV Tokyo that reflected the public’s divided opinion regarding his policies, such as the planned consumption tax hike in April.
Of those polled, 65.9 percent opposed further tax increases to 10 percent in 2015 following a rise to 8 percent from 5 percent next month. Most respondents are also skeptical of Abe’s promise of fatter paychecks in the future.
Opposition to Abe’s push for nuclear restarts remains strong, with 56.6 percent said they favored a nuclear power phaseout while 36.2 percent support a return to using nuclear power.
Shinzo Abe is also seeking to change the government’s interpretation of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease restrictions on the nation’s defense forces, a move that spurned concerns of a rightward shift and riled neighbors in the region.
A majority remain cautious on Abe’s goal to expand the military’s role while 33.9 percent expressed support.
Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party topped the poll of 1,023 households with eligible voters, boasting 41 percent of approval, followed by the Democratic Party of Japan with 5.8 percent.
More than 38 percent of respondents said they didn’t support any of Japan’s political parties.
By Maesie Bertumen
Image: “Statesmen’s Forum: HE Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan” by CSIS | Center for Strategic & International Studies/Flickr