Many want Abe to stay on till 2020 Olympics: Survey

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (not pictured) at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug 28.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks during a joint news conference with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (not pictured) at the State House in Nairobi, Kenya, on Aug 28. PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO • Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe edged above 60 per cent for the first time in almost two years, and nearly the same percentage want him to stay in the top job until Tokyo hosts the Summer Games in 2020, a media survey showed yesterday.

Voters, however, were split over the premier's "Abenomics"growth recipe of hyper-easy monetary policy, fiscal spending and promised reforms, with 47 per cent giving a thumbs down to the Bank of Japan's negative- interest-rate stance, the poll showed.

Support for Mr Abe's Cabinet hit 62 per cent in the Aug 26 to 28 survey by the Nikkei business daily, up four points from earlier this month. The paper suggested the rise could be due to Olympics fever, after a closing ceremony in Rio de Janeiro where Mr Abe appeared dressed as popular video game character Mario.

"I think the bump up was due to the feel-good factor of Japan doing well in the Olympics and 'Super Mario' is irrelevant," said Mr Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University's Japan campus.

Japan won 41 medals, including 12 gold.

Speculation has simmered that Mr Abe, already Japan's longest- serving premier in a decade, wants to stay in his post long enough to host the 2020 Olympics.

Doing so would require a change in his Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) rules that limit the party presidency to two three-year terms. His second term will end in September 2018.

Some LDP heavyweights have voiced support for the rule change, but potential rivals are less enthused.

A previous Nikkei survey showed 45 per cent of voters were opposed to extending the LDP leader's term limit against 41 per cent in favour.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 30, 2016, with the headline 'Many want Abe to stay on till 2020 Olympics: Survey'. Print Edition | Subscribe