Support for Japan's PM Abe rises after expressing 'utmost grief' in WWII statement: Poll

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 (Reuters) - 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 on 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 in July, a result likely to reinforce the view that he is set to win re-election as Liberal Democratic Party leader in a September party election.

The disapproval rating fell 5.2 per centage 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.

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

The legislation passed Parliament's Lower House in July and is now before the Upper Chamber.