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64% disapprove of Abe's decision to dissolve lower house: Mainichi poll

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, and Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda, center, applaud after the House of Representatives was dissolved on Sept. 28, 2017. (Mainichi)

Sixty-four percent of respondents to a recent Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll do not support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap general election at the outset of the extraordinary Diet session on Sept. 28, well over the 26 percent who were in favor of the move.

The nationwide poll conducted on Sept. 26 and 27 also showed that some 50 percent of supporters of Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), do not support Abe's decision to dissolve the powerful chamber. Among LDP supporters, 53 percent appreciated the prime minister's decision.

The survey also revealed that 49 percent of respondents want to see opposition parties increase their seats in the upcoming general election, while 34 percent hope for the ruling bloc to do the same.

At a press conference on Sept. 25, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike blasted Abe's move to disband the lower chamber, calling it "a dissolution without a cause." Among supporters of Kibo no To (Party of Hope), a fledgling national party that she leads, 79 percent of respondents were critical of Abe's decision for a lower house dissolution. The figure was also high among those with no party affiliations, reaching 75 percent.

Prime Minister Abe has explained that he would dissolve the lower house in order to seek a response from voters over his plan to shift the usage of an increase in tax revenue from a consumption tax hike from paying off national debt to child-rearing support -- on the premise the sales tax will be raised from the current 8 percent to 10 percent in October 2019 as scheduled.

Asked which sphere they wanted the increased tax revenue to be primarily spent on, 32 percent of respondents cited child-rearing support, while 31 percent called for repaying national debt. Among LDP supporters, the corresponding figures stood at 38 percent and 42 percent, respectively, illustrating that Abe's plan has not garnered widespread support.

Meanwhile, 29 percent of all the pollees said the consumption tax should not be raised in the first place.

The approval rating for the Abe Cabinet once nosedived due to his highly publicized favoritism scandals involving two school operators -- Osaka-based Moritomo Gakuen, which had ties with Abe's wife Akie, and Okayama-based Kake Educational Institution, which is headed by Abe's longtime confidant Kotaro Kake. When asked if respondents would take these scandals into consideration when deciding which candidates and parties they would vote for in the upcoming general election, 48 percent said they would while 44 percent said they wouldn't.

A majority of respondents, at 55 percent, said the largest opposition Democratic Party and the Japanese Communist Party need not join hands in electoral campaigns, while 27 percent said they should.

With regard to the international community's response to North Korea's repeated missile launches and nuclear tests, 62 percent of those surveyed said countries should step up their diplomatic efforts, while 24 percent said they ought to intensify military pressure on Pyongyang -- showing a similar trend to the previous poll conducted on Sept. 2 and 3.

As for Japan's Constitution, 50 percent of respondents said Diet debate for constitutional revision should be promoted after the general election, while 35 percent said such a debate need not be advanced.

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