Over half oppose Japan engaging in collective self-defense: survey


More than half of the public opposes Japan exercising the right to collective self-defense, or coming to the aid of an ally under attack, compared with more than a third who favor it, a survey said Sunday.

The results of the nationwide telephone survey, conducted over the weekend by Kyodo News, were released after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday in a policy speech at the Diet that the nation’s self-imposed ban on collective self-defense will be reviewed amid his push for a greater security role abroad.

Respondents who opposed using the right to collective defense came to 53.8 percent and those who favored it came to 37.1 percent, the survey said. No margin of error was given.

Reflecting public wariness over nuclear power since the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, 60.2 percent said they oppose reactivating the dozens of reactors idled after the disaster and 31.6 percent said they favor it.

The public approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet, meanwhile, edged up 0.7 point to 55.9 percent from the previous survey in December, while its disapproval rate fell to 31.0 percent from 32.6 percent.

On the economy, the survey found that 73.0 percent of the respondents do not think the prime minister’s yen-weakening “Abenomics” program is producing an upturn, compared with 24.5 percent who think it is.

As for his ongoing call for Japanese companies to raise wages, 66.5 percent said it was infeasible and 27.8 percent said it was feasible.

Asked about the controversial secrecy law enacted last month that imposes stricter penalties on leakers and seekers of information that has been indiscriminately classified as state secrets, 74.8 percent said the law should be scrapped or revised by the Diet.

Regarding the first-stage hike in the sales tax in April to 8 percent from the 5 percent, 69.1 percent said they were considering curbing consumption, compared with 29.4 percent who said they will not refrain from spending.

As for the scheduled plan to finally double the tax rate to 10 percent in October 2015, 30.1 percent were in favor and 64.5 percent were opposed.

On the recent re-election of Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine, who opposes the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Base Futenma to his city, 42.9 percent called for suspending the plan until the mayor gives approval, while 31.7 percent said the plan should go ahead as scheduled.

Another 17.9 percent want the relocation plan scrapped.

By political party, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 41.1 percent of those polled, while the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, was backed by 7.8 percent.

The Japanese Communist Party drew 4.3 percent support, followed by Nippon Ishin (Japan Restoration Party) with 3.7 percent, New Komeito, the LDP’s ruling coalition partner, with 3.5 percent and Your Party with 1.3 percent.

For the survey, 1,421 households with eligible voters were contacted by phone and 1,016 eligible respondents participated.

  • Sam Gilman

    This is the difference between representative democracy and direct democracy. The government is charged with trying to provide a coherent, workable programme, not with pleasing the population with every single thing it does.

    There is a fiscal deficit. To solve this you either raise taxes or cut spending. Both would be unpopular. There is, in the eyes of most Japanese, a clear threat from China to Japanese territory. But at the same time, a majority are uncomfortable with the idea of strengthening regional military alliances. What should the government do? The same goes for energy – it’s a choice between using nuclear power, a huge trade deficit (and pollution), or electricity shortages. All are unpopular.

    This is the appeal of Abe. For people who are here from cradle to grave with careers, families and so on, and who are able to read and understand the news (all of which is a minority of westerners here), he has the advantage that he appears the most competent of all the choices. That may sound surprising, but the previous government was absolutely awful, and the constituent groups subsequently splintered.

    This is why the secrets bill, which I think genuinely seemed inexplicable and bad, has been the only policy that has seriously hurt Abe’s popularity, although it seems to have recovered since then.

    It’s the same thing in the Tokyo governor’s election. The Japan Times thinks lots of people will vote for Hosokawa because it’s a chance to protest against nuclear power. Actually, the population are also (more) concerned about the economy, pensions and health, and also education,childcare and so on. Hosokawa, who does not appear to have any other policies, is therefore trailing in the polls. First and foremost people want someone who they believe can actually run the place.

    Unfortunately, the English language news coverage of Japanese politics can be pretty poor, as it’s filtered through the perceived immediate concerns/prejudices of the readership.