The number of Japanese who believe the economy is heading in the right direction has risen to 22 percent, up from 11 percent from the previous year, according to a Cabinet Office survey.
The figure was the highest since the survey began in 1998, and appears to reflect confidence in “Abenomics,” the economic plan of Prime Minster Shinzo Abe.
Meanwhile, 38.4 percent of the respondents cited diplomacy as an area that needed improvement — up 2.5 points from the previous year, according to the survey, released Saturday.
The rise may have reflected concerns over Japan’s crumbling ties with China and South Korea, recently aggravated by Abe’s December visit to war-linked Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
The Shinto facility, which honors Class-A war criminals along with the nation’s war dead, is regarded as a symbol of Japan’s war of aggression by its Asian victims, with official visits usually taken as an indication of the government’s refusal to face up to its wartime past.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 16 and Feb. 2 through interviews with 10,000 adults nationwide. Valid answers were received from 61.9 percent of the respondents.
The pollees were invited to select areas in which they believe the country is heading in the right or wrong direction. There were a total of 26 areas available and multiple answers were allowed.
Public safety was cited as an improving area by 19.4 percent, up 3.8 points, and education by 17.2 percent, up 6.3 points.
The survey also revealed that 55.3 percent of respondents thought of themselves as very patriotic, down 2.7 points from the previous year, while 13.2 percent said they do not think it necessary to foster patriotism, up 3.1 points from the previous poll.
Cabinet approval at 56.9%
The approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stands at 56.9 percent, up 3 points from the previous survey a month ago, a Kyodo News poll said Sunday.
The nationwide telephone survey, conducted over the weekend, also indicated 76.5 percent of respondents have concerns over the future of the economy after the consumption tax rate is hiked to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1.
It also said 65.9 percent of the respondents oppose the second stage of the sales tax, which is set to complete its doubling to 10 percent in October 2015, versus 28.6 percent who support it.
On the government’s controversial policy of lifting the self-imposed ban on using the right of collective self-defense by tweaking the way the government interprets the Constitution, 57.7 percent said they oppose it, up 6.7 points from the previous survey, while 33.9 percent support it, down 5 points.