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64% support Japan's removal of S. Korea from preferred trading list: Mainichi poll

A South Korean man stands next to a sign with a picture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a rally to denounce Japan's trade restrictions on South Korea in Seoul, South Korea, on Aug. 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

TOKYO -- Sixty-four percent of respondents in a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll conducted this past weekend expressed support for the government's removal of South Korea from a list of preferred trading partners.

The figure is well above the 21% who voiced opposition to the move. At the same time, over half, 57%, replied that Japan should continue dialogue with South Korea in an effort to settle the dispute over export controls, as well as the issue of compensation for South Koreans who were forced to work in Japan during World War II, which Tokyo claims has been settled under a bilateral pact. Twenty-nine percent answered there was no need for Japan to engage in such dialogue.

Among the pollees, only 16% said they bought or intended to buy something expensive before the 8% consumption tax rate is raised to 10% in October. In contrast, 75% answered that they would not do so or have no intention of doing so. This suggests that last-minute buying ahead of the consumption tax hike will likely be limited.

Of the respondents, 63% voiced concerns that the increase in the indirect tax levied on virtually all goods and services will adversely affect economic conditions in Japan, while 26% replied that they did not think the higher tax would have a negative impact.

The central government has announced that it will implement measures to minimize the impact of the consumption tax on the economy, but the poll outcome indicates that these efforts have not won sufficient public understanding.

Half of the respondents said they were opposed to going ahead with the consumption tax raise as planned, more than the 41% who expressed support for the hike.

The government has stated that pension benefits will stand at half the average net income of the current working population for the foreseeable future. Only 12% percent of respondents said they were satisfied with this explanation, while 74% said they weren't happy with it. Among those who support the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo, 66% said they weren't satisfied with the explanation. The answers highlight deep-rooted public distrust in the public pension system.

(Japanese original by Yuri Hirabayashi, Poll Office)

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