Half of public opposes secrecy protection bill: poll

KYODO

A government bill aimed at toughening penalties for leaking state secrets is opposed by 50.6 percent of the public, according to the latest Kyodo News survey.

The opinion poll, conducted by phone on Saturday and Sunday, said the secrecy bill was only backed by 35.9 percent of the public, with the rest either lacking an opinion or undecided.

The poll also noted that the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet had slipped to 60.7 percent from 63.3 percent earlier this month.

The bill, approved by the Cabinet on Friday, would provide harsher penalties for civil servants, lawmakers and other people who leak government secrets. Although the Cabinet wants the Diet to pass the bill before the extraordinary session closes on Dec. 6, the legislation has sparked criticism that it will only make it harder for the public to wring information out of a bureaucracy that already has chronic problems with disclosure.

According to the poll, 82.7 percent said the bill should be deliberated carefully in the Diet and only 12.9 percent would like it passed before the extraordinary session closes.

On the radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, 83.8 percent said they doubt Abe’s repeated assertions that the situation there is “under control,” compared with 11.7 percent who trust them.

On the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, 69.9 percent said that tariff removal is inevitable for some of the five “sacred” farm products — rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy and sugar.

But 20.9 percent oppose compromising on any of the products.

When asked whether the Abe’s economic policies have improved the economy, 78.8 percent said they hadn’t felt any real effect and 18.0 percent said they had perceived improvements. Of the respondents, 16.6 percent expected their incomes to rise thanks to the government’s policies, compared with 75.8 percent who did not.

On the government’s plan to lift its embargo on arms exports, 47.3 percent are opposed and 41.6 percent are in favor. Japan’s embargo prohibits the export of weapons to communist states, countries subject to arms embargoes under U.N. resolutions and countries involved in international conflicts.

On political parties, the poll found that the ruling Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 44.6 percent of the respondents, down 1.8 points from the previous poll, followed by the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan at 6.8 percent, the Japanese Communist Party at 4.1 percent, ruling coalition partner New Komeito at 3.7 percent, and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) at 3.6 percent.

Your Party was supported by 3.1 percent, People’s Life Party by 0.8 percent and the Social Democratic Party by 0.7 percent.

Of the respondents, 31.5 percent said they do not support a specific party.

  • Hanten

    Government secrets are sometimes leaked because someone was careless but more often, I suspect, because its believed to be in the public’s best interest to know. Japan needs less secrets and whistleblowers need to be supported, not jailed.