Abe Cabinet approval rating drops to 55 per cent

The approval rating of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet fell nine percentage points to 55 per cent, the lowest since its launch in December in 2012, according to a nationwide opinion poll recently conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

While the approval rating showed a drop from 64 per cent in the previous poll in November, the disapproval rating rose by 15 percentage points from 23 per cent to 38 per cent in the latest poll, conducted from Friday through Sunday.

As for reasons for disapproval, the largest portion of respondents, or 40 per cent, said, "Because it is a Liberal Democratic Party-led administration." The figure is the highest since the launch of the Cabinet, rising from 26 per cent in the previous poll.

The approval rating of the party also declined, from 42 per cent to 36 per cent.

The drop in approval ratings of both the Cabinet and the LDP likely reflects public discontent with the ruling parties' handling of the Diet over the law on protecting specially designated state secrets.

Of the 1,068 people responding to the poll, 39 per cent support the new law, while 50 per cent oppose it.

Approval ratings for major political parties were 6 per cent for the Democratic Party of Japan, up from 4 per cent in the previous poll; 4 per cent for New Komeito, unchanged from the previous figure; and 3 per cent for the Japanese Communist Party, up from 2 per cent.

Regarding China's declaring an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, which encompasses the Senkaku Islands, 85 per cent of the respondents consider it a "threat," with 52 per cent saying it is a "serious threat" and 33 per cent saying they think it is "somewhat of a threat."

Eighty-three per cent said they support the government requesting that China retract the claim of an ADIZ.

Concerning the issue, US Vice President Joe Biden held talks with Abe, and the two confirmed the close cooperation between Tokyo and Washington. Eighty-two per cent of respondents approved the commitment.

Regarding the Cabinet's policy of relocating the US Marine Corps' air station in Futenma, Okinawa Prefecture, to the Henoko district in Nago, in the same prefecture, 50 per cent support it and 35 per cent do not.

In the previous poll, 74 per cent answered that a reduced tax rate should be introduced along with the consumption tax hike. The figure rose to 78 per cent in the latest poll.

The poll was conducted by calling computer-generated, random phone numbers. Of 1,716 households with eligible voters, 62 per cent gave valid answers.