TOKYO: Public support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has rebounded since his government rammed through unpopular security legislation, according to polls published Monday, as he refocuses on the struggling economy.
In September, parliament in the officially pacifist nation passed the contentious security bills, opening the door for Japanese troops to engage in combat overseas for the first time since the end of World War II.
The legislation was met with strong public resistance and pounded the popularity of the conservative Abe, who swept to power in late 2012 on a ticket to kickstart the long-laggard economy.
But on Monday, a weekend poll conducted by the leading Nikkei business daily and TV Tokyo found that support for Abe had rebounded eight points from October to 49 percent — a level last seen this summer as debate raged over the then-proposed security legislation.
The survey, which polled 1,365 households over the weekend, came as Abe turns his focus back to an economy that fell into recession in the third quarter.
A similarly sized weekend poll by Kyodo News agency meanwhile said Abe’s approval rating rose 3.5 points to 48.3 percent from a previous survey in October.
Recent summits with South Korea and China also helped boost Abe’s approval rating, as he moves to soothe long-standing diplomatic frictions, Japanese media said.
Meanwhile, both polls found about 80 percent of respondents thought that Japan could be hit by violent attacks like those in Paris earlier this month, which claimed the lives of 130 people in separate bombing and shooting incidents.