The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet rose to 49.5 percent after the ruling coalition’s victory in last month’s general election, but more than half of respondents were opposed to his cherished goal of amending the Constitution, a Kyodo News poll showed Thursday.
The approval rating improved 5.0 points from the previous poll in September after Abe was re-elected by the Diet as prime minister and launched his fourth Cabinet on Wednesday. The disapproval rating for the Cabinet stood at 38.3 percent, according to a two-day nationwide telephone survey conducted through Thursday.
But the survey showed that 51.2 percent of respondents do not want Abe to win another three-year term as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party to stay as prime minister, while 41.0 percent hope he does.
The LDP’s solid election victory could boost the chances that the 63-year-old Abe will secure a third term as party president. His current term as leader ends next September.
With regard to Abe’s ambition to revise Japan’s Constitution for the first time, 50.2 percent said they were opposed, while 39.4 percent were supportive.
In the election campaign, Abe pledged to promote discussion of constitutional changes, centering on explicitly mentioning the status of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in war-renouncing Article 9.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, the leader of the LDP, which has been pursuing constitutional amendment since its establishment, expressed his readiness to accelerate preparations for a detailed draft of the proposal.
Of the respondents in the latest poll, 52.6 percent said they opposed the proposal on the war-renouncing clause, while 38.3 percent were in favor.
Asked about up to two issues on which the Abe Cabinet should put priority, 42.5 percent selected welfare, including the pension system and medical treatment, 39.6 percent picked economic policies and 31.5 percent cited child care and measures to counter the declining birthrate.
The LDP and its junior coalition partner the Komeito party secured a two-thirds majority in the election for the 465-seat House of Representatives on Oct. 22 amid disarray among the opposition parties.
In response to a question about the ruling camp’s resounding victory in the lower house election, 32.5 percent said the result was “good,” 28.7 percent replied “not good,” and 37.4 percent answered they were unsure.
Abe’s popularity plunged to 35.8 percent in July, the lowest level during his nearly five-year stint as prime minister, due to a series of scandals, including cronyism allegations leveled at him.
But his popularity then improved and remained stable after he reshuffled his Cabinet in early August, appointing LDP lawmakers viewed as not especially close to him, including Foreign Minister Taro Kono.
Regarding political parties, Abe’s LDP was supported by 38.9 percent, up 4.2 points, the newly launched left-leaning Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was backed by 16.1 percent and 5.7 percent supported the Party of Hope, another new party launched by Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike.
The two new parties are effectively splinters of the Democratic Party, the leading opposition party before the election that garnered only 0.9 percent support in the latest poll.
The survey, covering 726 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,138 mobile phone numbers, received valid responses from 503 and 504, respectively.