Seventy-two percent of respondents in an Asahi Shimbun poll said the Abe administration's response to leaks of radioactive water at the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was "late."
This compared with 15 percent who answered it was "early."
The administration announced Sept. 3 that the central government will take responsibility by spending at least 47 billion yen ($473 million) to deal with tons of radiation-contaminated water flowing daily from the plant into the sea.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged a leak from a storage tank in July.
For the survey, The Asahi Shimbun contacted 3,496 voters by telephone on Sept. 7-8. There were 1,925 valid responses, accounting for 55 percent of the total.
The respondents were also asked whether they feel the government should take the lead in tackling this growing problem, and 89 percent answered "yes."
When asked to pick one option among four in regard to the gravity of the problem, 95 percent of respondents answered it is "serious." Of that number, 72 percent said "very much" and 23 percent said "to some degree."
The poll also looked at other issues.
With regard to scheduled increases in the consumption tax rate from the current 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014 and to 10 percent in October 2015, 39 percent of respondents expressed support for the action while 52 percent did not.
After taking economic factors into account, Abe is expected to announce in early October whether he will go ahead with the tax increase.
When asked if they will try to hold down daily expenses if the consumption tax rate rises to 8 percent next April, 65 percent said "yes." This compared with 29 percent who said "no."
Another issue that is much in the public mind concerns the territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea.
Marking the first anniversary of the Japanese government’s decision to purchase three of the inhabited islands from a private owner and make them state property, respondents were asked if they agreed with the decision.
Fifty-six percent of respondents approved and 24 percent expressed their disapproval.
The islands off Okinawa Prefecture are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China.
The respondents were asked to pick one option among four with regard to the degree of soured Japan-China relations due to the Senkaku Island issue. Thirty-two percent and 50 percent answered that this is a "serious problem" and a "sort of problem," respectively. Thirteen percent and 3 percent said that it is "not much of a problem" and "not a problem at all," respectively.
The support rate for the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was 57 percent, whereas the non-support rate was 24 percent.
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