Japan voters back PM Abe's efforts to spur growth, beat deflation

TOKYO (REUTERS) - More than two thirds of Japanese voters support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet, a media survey published on Monday showed, with many of them praising his efforts to battle deflation and stimulate the economy.

Mr Abe took office last month after his conservative Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) landslide election victory on Dec 16, promising to revive the world's third-biggest economy with bold monetary easing and big spending by the debt-laden government.

Support for Mr Abe's cabinet stood at 68 per cent, the Yomiuri newspaper's latest survey showed, up from 65 per cent in a previous poll taken shortly after he took office.

The survey was taken over the weekend after Mr Abe's cabinet approved on Friday US$117 billion (S$142 billion) spending to stimulate growth, bringing a total stimulus package to 20.2 trillion yen including spending by local governments and private-sector firms.

Sixty-six per cent of those surveyed supported Mr Abe's policy of boosting coordination with the Bank of Japan and placing more emphasis on economic growth.

But people were split over Mr Abe's energy policy, with 44 per cent in favour of a plan to restart off-line nuclear reactors that are confirmed safe and 46 per cent opposed, according to the poll.

Nuclear energy has been a particularly emotive issue since the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear energy plant triggered by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The poll also found showed that 37 per cent of respondents would vote for the LDP in the proportional representation stage of an upper house election expected in July, compared with 16 per cent for the Japan Restoration Party and 8 per cent for the Democratic Party of Japan.