TOKYO, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Over half of Japanese people oppose dispatching the Self-Defense Forces to the Middle East for a U.S.-led coalition to help protect the Strait of Hormuz amid heightened tensions with Iran, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.
The nationwide telephone poll, which was conducted on Saturday and Sunday, showed that 57.1 percent said Japan should not send the SDF to the region, while 28.2 percent said it should.
Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged Japan to consider joining a coalition to monitor and protect the Strait of Hormuz during a visit to Tokyo.
However, Japan is reluctant to send the Maritime Self-Defense Force to the Strait of Hormuz, a key shipping lane through which around one fifth of the world's oil passes, out of concern that doing so could undermine its friendly ties with Iran.
The survey also showed that the approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rose to 50.3 percent, up 1.7 percentage points from the previous poll in July. The disapproval rate stood at 34.6 percent, down 3.6 points.
When asked about the country's deteriorating relations with South Korea, 62.4 percent said they were concerned about the future path of bilateral relations, while 32.4 percent said they were not.