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70% satisfied with Abe-Trump talks: Kyodo poll

A large majority of 70 percent of Japanese people are satisfied
with recent talks between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S.
President Donald Trump, according to a Kyodo News poll conducted
Sunday and Monday.

The poll found 70.2 percent of respondents reacted positively to
the first official talks between Abe and Trump in Washington and in
Palm Beach, Florida, on Friday and Saturday, while 19.5 percent were
dissatisfied.

The support rate for Abe's Cabinet stood at 61.7 percent in the
nationwide survey, up 2.1 points from the previous survey conducted
last month, against a disapproval rate of 27.2 percent.

At their summit, Abe and Trump confirmed plans to strengthen the
bilateral alliance and to launch a high-level economic dialogue to
cover trade, macroeconomic policy, and infrastructure and energy
projects, in a bid to bolster bilateral economic relations.

Trump did not criticize Japan over its sizable trade surplus
with the United States, raise currency issues or attack Japan's
automobile trade during the summit in Washington on Friday, Japanese
officials said, although prior to the summit he had criticized
Japan's economic and monetary policies.

While the Abe-Trump summit drew wide support, the poll found
that 75.5 percent of respondents did not understand why Trump issued
an executive order to freeze the U.S. refugee program and temporarily
bar entry to nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. Only 16.9
percent said they did.

Abe has been refraining from making comments about Trump's
controversial executive order, saying that a country's immigration
policy is a "domestic matter."

Over 60 percent of those polled said it was appropriate that Abe
played a round of golf with Trump at the U.S. president's Mar-a-Lago
vacation estate in Palm Beach where Abe was invited to stay. He
stayed there for two nights following the summit in Washington.

The poll also showed that 77.3 percent of the respondents backed
the joint press statement issued following the summit, which affirmed
the U.S. commitment to protect Japan in the event the
Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea come under
an armed attack. The isles are a major source of friction with China,
which claims them, calling them Diaoyu.

Over the newly launched high-level economic dialogue to be
headed by Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso and U.S. Vice
President Mike Pence, 67.7 percent of those polled said they support
it, while 60.2 percent said they agree with Japan's plan to cooperate
to create jobs in the United States.

On domestic matters, 69.5 percent said the way Justice Minister
Katsutoshi Kaneda had handled debate in the current Diet session over
a contentious bill to criminalize conspiracy to commit terrorism was
problematic. Only 14.1 percent said Kaneda's handling was not
problematic.

The justice minister has faced mounting criticism over his
purported intention to suppress Diet debate on the bill.

He distributed and later retracted a rare statement to the
media, which said discussions about the envisioned bill should be
withheld for the time being and take place at a judicial affairs
committee after the government officially submits it to parliament.

Also, 66.4 percent of respondents said they were dissatisfied by
Defense Minister Inada Tomomi's explanation in the current Diet
session regarding the seriousness of the South Sudan conflict, where
Japanese Self-Defense Forces are currently dispatched for U.N.
peacekeeping operations.

She said that she uses the phrase "armed clashes" in describing
the situation in South Sudan because calling it "combat" would be a
"problem" under the war-renouncing Article 9 of the Japanese
Constitution.

Article 9 of the supreme law says the Japanese people forever
renounce war and the threat or use of force as means of settling
international disputes.

The poll also showed that 48.2 percent of respondents hope the
Japanese government will continue offshore work to build a
replacement facility for a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa, while 41
percent said they want it halted.

The resumption of works off the Henoko coastal area of Nago to
relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma from a crowded
residential area of Ginowan faces strong local opposition from people
who want the base to be moved outside of the southwestern Japanese
island prefecture. (Feb. 13)