Japan PM Abe's support ratings rise above 60 per cent

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe playing with a basketball after his meeting with the Mozambican women's basketball team members in Maputo on January 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe playing with a basketball after his meeting with the Mozambican women's basketball team members in Maputo on January 12, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (Reuters) - Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government rose to more than 60 per cent in opinion polls, although voters were divided on his December visit to a Tokyo shrine seen by critics as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

The support rose 7 percentage points from last month to 62 per cent in a poll by the Yomiuri newspaper, while backing for the main opposition Democratic Party fell 2 points to 4 per cent and was dwarfed by the 40 per cent who backed Mr Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Forty-five percent of respondents to the poll, conducted between Friday and Sunday, supported Mr Abe's Dec 26 visit to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where Japanese leaders convicted as war criminals are enshrined along with other war dead. Forty-seven percent were against it.

The visit infuriated China and South Korea and prompted concern from key ally the United States.

Support for Mr Abe's government had fallen last month to the lowest since he began his second term in late 2012 after his ruling coalition steamrolled through Parliament a tough secrecy law that critics fear could muzzle media and let officials hide misdeeds.

Support for Mr Abe's economic policies rose 5 points to 60 per cent, the poll also showed.

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