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Japan cabinet rating rises despite Afghan law - poll

TOKYO - Support for Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's government has risen over the past month, though nearly half of respondents said the passage of a law to restart an Afghan naval mission was inappropriate, a poll showed on Saturday.

The approval rating for the cabinet rose 6.1 percentage points from last month to 41.4 percent, according to the telephone opinion poll conducted by Kyodo news agency on Friday and Saturday. It had fallen more than 11 percent the previous month.

Still, the poll showed the number of those opposed to the cabinet was more than the supporters, accounting for 42.8 percent.

Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda (R) speaks to Defence Minister Shigeru Ishiba in parliament in Tokyo January 11, 2008. (REUTERS/Kyodo)

According to the poll, 46.7 percent of the respondents said the passage of a law on Friday to restart the Afghan naval mission was inappropriate.

Japan's government forced the law through parliament to resume a controversial naval mission in support of U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan, keeping a promise to security ally Washington.

The opposition-controlled upper house had earlier voted down the bill to restart the mission to refuel U.S. and other ships patrolling the Indian Ocean, a sign of the divisions in parliament that are causing policy paralysis.

In the last Kyodo poll conducted in December, only about a third of Japanese supported Fukuda's government, reflecting growing discontent over its handling of a public pensions crisis and a defence procurement scandal.

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