Support rate for Abe cabinet up 4.3 points at 53.7%


The support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet rose 4.3 points in January from the previous month to 53.7%, a Kyodo News opinion poll showed Sunday.

The disapproval rate came in at 35.3%, down 2.9 points from the previous poll.

In the nationwide telephone survey conducted on Saturday and Sunday, 67.3% of the respondents said Akira Amari, who resigned as economy minister Thursday over a fund scandal, was right to step down from his post, while 28.5% said he did not need to quit.

Although 55.5% said Amari, one of the key architects of Abe’s economic strategy, does not need to leave the House of Representatives, 39.7% said he should do so.

Respondents were more narrowly split over whether the responsibility for having appointed Amari lies with Abe, with 46.8% agreeing and 50.1% disagreeing.

The poll also found 50.3% were opposed to going ahead with reforms to Japan’s pacifist Constitution following the upper house election scheduled this summer, while 37.5% were in favor.

Abe has been pushing for changes to the national defense posture defined by Article 9, which forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes.

Asked about a government push to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pass related bills before the end of the current Diet session, 69.2% of respondents said lawmakers should prioritize careful deliberation of the legislation even if it spills over into the following session.

The Pacific Rim trade pact planned for signing in New Zealand on Thursday involves 12 countries including Japan.


Tunisian Police arrested Canadian newly converted to Islam “in suspicious circumstances”

Tunisian Radio station Sabra FM reported that a Canadian national, “a newly converted to Islam”, was arrested in the City of Tataouine in southern Tunisia, while trying to infiltrate into neighboring war torn Libya.

Security source told Radio Sabra that the Canadian national told Police that he attempted to enter Libya because of his great interest in Islamic archaeology. While in detention for further interrogation, he made a failed attempted to escape.

According to the report, the Canadian suspect stayed in the City of Dehiba and later returned to Tataouine after he noticed intensive security presence in the area. The Canadian national, whose name was not disclosed, was arrested on December 22, 2015.

Libya plunged into civil war following the fall of Gaddafi regime in 2011. Since the summer of 2014, the country has had two rival administrations. The militia-backed authority in Tripoli is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical Islamic groups. During the last two years, Islamic groups who swore allegiance to the Islamic State (a.k.a. IS, ISIS, ISIL and the Caliphate) took control of major cities in Libya and attempted to seize the oil terminals in Ras Lanuf and Al-Sidra.

The Toronto Star reported that Canadian born and Toronto resident Zaynab Khadr, the sister of former Guantanamo detainee Omar Khadr, is detained in Turkey. It is unknown why Zaynab was arrested and whether she has been charged.