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Abe's support hits two-year high after North Korea nuclear test

Tuesday, September 13, 2016 - 10:38

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Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet has risen to a two-year high in separate opinion polls published this week by public broadcaster NHK and the Yomiuri newspaper.

[TOKYO] Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet has risen to a two-year high in separate opinion polls published this week by public broadcaster NHK and the Yomiuri newspaper.

The Abe administration had the support of 62 per cent of respondents in a survey by the Yomiuri conducted between Sep 9 and 11, up eight per centage points from a month earlier.

A survey published by NHK Monday put support at 57 per cent, up four percentage points on the previous month. Another poll published by the Asahi newspaper found his support had risen to 52 per cent.

One factor in the improving perceptions of Mr Abe, who has increased the defence budget and sought to expand the role of the military, may have been North Korea's fifth nuclear weapons test last week.

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About 81 per cent of respondents to the Yomiuri survey said Japan should step up sanctions against its unpredictable neighbour.

Some 68 per cent of respondents to the NHK poll said they supported an agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mr Abe at a meeting earlier this month for Asia's two biggest economies to persevere with dialogue to prevent any incidents around disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Even so, a majority of respondents to the Asahi survey said they didn't have high expectations that the meeting would relieve tensions.

Among areas that respondents want the government to focus on, 24 per cent said social welfare, 23 per cent pointed to economic stimulus measures, and 15 per cent chose foreign affairs in the NHK poll.

The polls found a generally favourable attitude to Mr Abe's policy of revising a tax break for housewives, with two-thirds of respondents to the Yomiuri poll in favour, while 32 per cent of NHK respondents were also supporting it with 15 per cent against it.

The surveys conflicted, however, on how long Mr Abe should stay in office. The NHK survey found that 30 per cent of respondents were opposed to Mr Abe staying on as leader of his party past the end of his current term in Sep 2018, compared with 28 per cent in favour. The Yomiuri poll showed more respondents were in favour of him staying on.

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