Japan PM Abe's support slips to 32%, majority oppose nuclear restart: Poll

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombing of the city of Nagasaki.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the 1945 atomic bombing of the city of Nagasaki.PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has slipped to just over 30 per cent and a majority oppose the planned restart of a nuclear reactor that went offline after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, a poll by the Mainichi newspaper showed on Monday.

The three-point decline to 32 per cent - the lowest since Mr Abe returned to office in December 2012 - comes as voters fret over a shift in security policy that would end a ban on the military fighting overseas to defend a friendly country. That could let Japan's troops fight abroad for the first time since World War II.

Mr Abe's ratings began dropping sharply after scholars told a parliamentary panel in June the legislation would violate Japan's post-war, pacifist Constitution. Mr Abe says the change will boost deterrence and make war less likely but critics fear Japan could get embroiled in a US-led conflict.

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents to the weekend survey opposed Kyushu Electric Power Co's restart of a reactor at its Sendai plant in south-west Japan, set for Tuesday.

Thirty per cent supported the reboot, the first in nearly two years, which will reopen the nuclear sector.

Opposition to Mr Abe was higher among women than men. Only 26 per cent of female voters backed his government, compared with 40 per cent of men.

Japan's fragmented opposition parties, however, are not benefiting from Mr Abe's woes. Support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was flat at 28 per cent, but that of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan was just 9 per cent.

Nor has any LDP rival so far indicated a desire to challenge Mr Abe in a party leadership election that must be held next month.