TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has dropped in the days since his ruling coalition rammed through legislation allowing the nation's troops to fight abroad, opinion polls showed on Monday (Sept 21).
Parliament in the officially pacifist nation passed the contentious security bills early last Saturday (Sept 19), a move that could see Japanese troops engage in combat overseas for the first time since the end of World War II.
A weekend poll taken by the top-selling, centre-right newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun showed that public support for the Abe government dropped four points to 41 per cent compared with a similar survey taken in mid-August.
Its disapproval rating rose six points to 51 per cent, the Yomiuri said.
A separate poll taken by the liberal Asahi Shimbun showed the government's approval rating down one point to 35 per cent compared with a survey taken a week ago, while the disapproval rating rose three points to 45 per cent.
And the Nikkei business daily's poll showed the approval rating fall six points to 40 per cent, while disapproval rose seven points to 47 per cent.
A majority of those polled voiced disapproval of what they said was the way the government bulldozed the legislation through the Diet, and complained that Mr Abe had not offered persuasive and detailed arguments to justify the move.
The legislation had sparked angry street protests with tens of thousands taking part, and fuelled anger among Japan's neighbours.
However, the Yomiuri reported Mr Abe's supporters were relieved to see only a moderate drop in public support.
"A sense of relief spread among government officials and ruling party members as public support fell only by small margins," the Yomiuri said.
The opposition failed to gain momentum because they were not able to offer viable alternatives to the bills, the Yomiuri said, echoing the assessments of survey results by rival media.
Proponents of the legislation have said the measures are necessary to beef up defence against China and North Korea.