Support rises slightly for Japan’s Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet

Support rose slightly for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's Cabinet with the public thinking highly of his reforms, according to newspaper poll results released Tuesday. The Cabinet's approval rating stood at 59 percent, up 3 points from a similar survey in November, a poll report by the business newspaper Nihon Keizai showed.

However, disapproval rose 4 points to 34 percent, but the survey did not give specific reasons. The highest proportion of supporters, 57 percent, said they back Koizumi because of his "leadership," and also praised his reforms in postal services and state-backed financial institutions, the Nihon Keizai said.

Koizumi has been pushing for reforms, including the privatization of Japan's state-backed postal system, reduction of the number of public servants and a trimmer national budget. Of those who disapproved, more than 40 percent said his policies are "not good," and 36 percent said he "lacked international common sense." The paper did not mention other reasons.

Japan's relations with China and South Korea plunged to their lowest point in decades this year as Koizumi ignored both countries' objections, and visited in October a Tokyo war shrine honoring convicted Japanese war criminals from World War II among 2.5 million war dead, and defending Japan' past aggressions.

Japan and China are also squabbling over ownership of islands in the East China Sea and the exploration of undersea gas deposits, among other issues. Japan and South Korea also have unresolved territorial disputes, and disagree over the historical interpretation of Japan's colonial rule of the Korean peninsula, reports the AP. I.L.

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