National / Politics

Tokyo voters scratch heads over poll call

by Shusuke Murai

Staff Writer

Voters on the streets of Tokyo were baffled Friday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dissolved the Lower House for a snap election that a recent poll said more than 60 percent of the nation does not support.

A young voter in the upscale Ginza district who was interviewed by The Japan Times said Abe failed to clarify his reasons for calling an election.

“Honestly, the snap election this time seems meaningless to me. It’s all so abrupt, and Abe didn’t explain it to us enough,” said Yuki Yoshida, a 26-year-old search engine employee.

Yoshida said he has not decided which party to vote for because the main issue of the election is unclear.

On Tuesday, Abe said he will postpone the second stage of the consumption tax hike originally scheduled for October 2015 because the economy isn’t strong enough to take it.

The first stage raised the tax to 8 percent from 5 percent on April 1, and the second stage was to complete its doubling to 10 percent.

The prime minister dissolved the House of Representatives on Friday to gauge voter support for his unorthodox “Abenomics” program.

Abenomics, a three-part program aimed at ending chronic deflation, is based on radical monetary easing, fiscal stimuli and vows to effect growth-oriented structural reforms.

Yasushi Hayashi said in the Shinbashi business district that ¥60 billion in taxpayer money that is said to be spent on the election is absurd.

The logistics employee in his 40s said the poll is only a ploy to create an excuse to postpone the tax hike until April 2017. He said it also will conveniently help Abe avoid taking responsibility for the scandals in his newly appointed Cabinet.

An IT industry worker in his 50s also interviewed in Shinbashi but who asked not to be named, took a similarly dim view, saying a snap election is just a tool Abe is using to prolong his administration.

A nurse in her 20s in Ginza said she didn’t understand the reason for the poll or what to do.

An opinion poll by Kyodo News Thursday said 63.1 percent of public thinks Abe’s decision to dissolve the Lower House makes no sense, compared with 30.5 percent who said his timing is right.

The telephone survey, based on 1,214 valid answers collected from 1,746 randomly selected households with eligible voters, also said that 44.4 percent of the respondents did not know who they would vote for.

A female freelancer in her 60s interviewed in Ginza said she didn’t know who she would vote for. The Fukushima native she said she will not vote for the Democratic Party of Japan in light of its failure to deal with the nuclear disaster, but acknowledged that Abe’s team heavily favors the wealthy, who are likely to back him.

A woman in her 70s who owns a private business said Abe’s confidence has convinced her to vote for him.

“If the snap election ends up wrong, Japan will be looked down upon again. . . . Abe’s confidence and fair-minded attitude makes me think he has a strong will to realize what’s good for Japanese people,” she said.

“I’m hoping he will carry out politics that can inspire hope and dreams in young people, just like we did when we were young. . . . I think there are no other candidates who can do it,” she said.

Information from Kyodo added