Support for Abe rises after his WWII speech

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a speech during a memorial service at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on Aug 15, 2015.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a speech during a memorial service at Nippon Budokan Hall in Tokyo, Japan on Aug 15, 2015. PHOTO: EPA

TOKYO • Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has bounced in the first poll conducted after he expressed "utmost grief" for the suffering Japan caused during World War II in a speech marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat.

Mr Abe said last Friday he upheld past official apologies for the war, but the conservative leader said future generations should not have to keep apologising for the mistakes of the past.

In the survey by Kyodo news agency published on Saturday, support for Mr Abe's government rose to 43.2 per cent from 37.7 per cent in the previous poll last month, a result likely to reinforce the view that he is set to win re-election as Liberal Democratic Party leader in a party election next month.

 

The disapproval rating fell 5.2 percentage points to 46.4 per cent, although it still surpassed the support rate.

The survey showed 44.2 per cent of those polled viewed Mr Abe's 70th anniversary statement favourably, exceeding 37 per cent who did not.

However, his remarks were met with disappointment in the region, particularly by Japan's two neighbours China and South Korea, which suffered greatly under Japanese occupation and colonial rule.

South Korea's President Park Geun Hye said that Mr Abe's statement "leaves much to be desired" and urged Japan to show "consistent and sincere actions" to back its pledge to uphold the previous Cabinets' position on history.

The Chinese government criticised Mr Abe for not making a sincere apology to the victims of Japan's wartime actions and accused him of being "evasive" on his country's militaristic aggression.

Mr Abe's ratings had started dropping sharply after scholars told a parliamentary panel in June that legislation ending a ban on military fighting overseas to defend a friendly country would violate Japan's post-war, pacifist Constitution.

The legislation was passed by Parliament's Lower House last month and is now before the Upper Chamber.

REUTERS

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2015, with the headline 'Support for Abe rises after his WWII speech'. Print Edition | Subscribe