The Japanese public has raised pressure on the administration of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, with a poll by Kyodo News finding Sunday that 64.9 percent disapprove of a recently announced plan to raise taxes to finance a substantial increase in the nation's defense spending.

The support rate for his Cabinet stayed at 33.1 percent from last month's survey, the lowest since its launch last year. The disapproval rating was almost unchanged at 51.5 percent.


On Friday, Kishida announced Japan's new security strategy to forge ahead with its biggest defense buildup program since World War II amid China's rise and North Korean threats.

As for the planned increase in defense budgets for five years from the next fiscal year, 53.6 percent oppose it, with 39.0 percent in favor.

The government also plans to increase corporate and tobacco taxes to boost defense spending.

In the telephone poll held Saturday and Sunday, 87.1 percent felt Kishida had failed to explain the tax hike plan adequately, with only 7.2 percent saying his explanation was sufficient.

People protest against a tax hike plan for higher defense spending in front of the prime minister's office in Tokyo on Dec. 16, 2022. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

As the government will divert a portion of tax revenues designated for reconstruction following a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern areas to defense purposes, 74.5 percent oppose the plan, while 19.5 percent approve of it.

Public opinion was divided on the issue of Japan acquiring "counterstrike capability," allowing it to strike enemy territory, with 50.3 percent saying they approve of the policy while 42.6 percent disapprove.

On Friday, Kishida explained that the ability could discourage potential adversaries from attacking Japan.

However, 61.0 percent believe such a capability could stoke tensions with neighboring countries, while 33.9 percent said it is not a concern.

The poll highlighted some expectations for a new law that bans organizations from maliciously soliciting donations amid criticism over the fundraising practices of the Unification Church.

It showed that 60.2 percent feel the law is effective, while 37.0 percent feel the opposite.

Kishida's Cabinet has been grappling with how to deal with its plunging approval rates, largely owing to the revelation of deep ties between lawmakers of his Liberal Democratic Party and the church, which has come under scrutiny after the assailant who fatally shot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July told investigators he harbored a grudge against the group due to his mother's massive donations to it.

The survey called 509 randomly selected households with eligible voters on landline phones and 2,245 mobile phone numbers. It yielded responses from 425 households and 626 mobile phone users.

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