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Abe's Cabinet support rate mixed ahead of LDP leadership contest: poll

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet inched up 0.8 point to 44.2 percent from the previous survey in July, while the disapproval rating also rose 0.6 point to 42.4 percent, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

With Abe announcing that he will run in the Liberal Democratic Party leadership contest on Sept. 20, the latest telephone poll conducted Saturday and Sunday showed that 36.3 percent said they support Abe as leader of the ruling party, while 31.3 percent see his rival Shigeru Ishiba, a former defense minister, as the ideal leader and 4.9 percent favor Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda.

The poll also found 49.0 percent oppose Abe's intention to submit a bill to amend the Constitution to the extraordinary Diet session in the autumn, as the LDP proposes.

Abe and Ishiba hold different views on the issue. The prime minister has called for adding an explicit reference to the Self-Defense Forces in its war-renouncing Article 9 to end a debate deeming the SDF "unconstitutional," while Ishiba insists that changes to Article 9 are not a priority issue, citing a lack of public understanding.

Abe said Sunday he will run in the leadership contest and is determined to "hold the helm of Japan for three more years as LDP president and prime minister."

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