Opinion polls conducted over the weekend found a sharp decline in the Cabinet’s public approval rate, indicating Prime Minister Shinzo Abe might have expended too much of his political capital in enacting the controversial state secrets law.
According to a Kyodo News survey, the Cabinet’s support rate fell 10.3 percent points to 47.6 percent from the previous poll last month. It is the first time this Cabinet’s rating has fallen below 50 percent in a Kyodo survey.
A poll by the JNN television network reported a 13.9 point fall to 54.6 percent, while the daily Asahi Shimbun reported a 7 point drop to 46 percent from a month earlier.
In the Kyodo poll, 54.1 percent of the respondents said the law should be revised immediately when the Diet opens next month. Another 28.2 percent said it should be scrapped, and only 9.4 percent said it should be put into force as it is currently stands.
At a news conference Monday, Abe claimed the law will never expand the scope of state-designated secrets, and “ordinary citizens would never be involved” in crackdowns on those who illegally leak them.
Rather, the law will clarify the rules for designating state secrets and leave records of which officials were responsible, Abe said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said earlier Monday that Abe’s administration expected that passing the controversial legislation would hurt its public support, and that a double-digit fall was “within the range of our prediction.”
“It’s true it is difficult to win (people’s) understanding of this law,” Suga said.
He argued that the law is designed to protect national security and the people’s peace of mind, and the Cabinet was determined to push it through despite the political cost.