Abe support rate rises despite Amari scandal but half oppose changing Constitution


The support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet rose 4.3 points in January from the previous month to 53.7 percent, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

The disapproval rate came in at 35.3 percent, down 2.9 points from the previous poll.

In the nationwide telephone survey Saturday and Sunday, 67.3 percent of the respondents also said economy minister Akira Amari, who resigned Thursday over a bribery scandal, was right to step down from his post, while 28.5 percent said he did not need to quit.

Although 55.5 percent said Amari — one of the key architects of Abe’s economic policies — does not need to leave the Lower House, 39.7 percent said he should do so.

The survey covered 1,441 randomly selected households nationwide containing eligible voters. Valid responses were collected from 1,007 people.

Respondents were more closely split over whether the responsibility for having appointed Amari lies with Abe, with 46.8 percent agreeing and 50.1 percent disagreeing.

The poll also found that 50.3 percent were opposed to Abe’s push to revise the nation’s pacifist Constitution following the Upper House election scheduled for this summer. Those in favor of the shift came in at 37.5 percent.

Abe has been pushing for changes to the nation’s defense posture and the Constitution’s Article 9, which forbids Japan from using force to settle international disputes.

Asked about a government drive to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership and pass related bills before the end of the current Diet session, 69.2 percent of respondents said lawmakers should prioritize careful deliberation of the legislation even if it spills over into the following session.

The Pacific Rim trade pact, which involves 12 countries, including Japan, is set to be signed in New Zealand on Thursday.

Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 42.1 percent, up 5.2 points from the previous month, while 9.5 percent backed the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, down 0.2 point. Some 33.3 percent did not support any particular party.

  • A.J. Sutter

    One has to wonder how much of the boost in approval of the current Cabinet is connected to the ubiquitous and emotional images of Amari owning up to his misdeeds after they were discovered. It does have some paradoxical aspects: Amari is no longer a member of the Cabinet the respondents claim to approve of, so if his decision to fast forward past the ritual denials has won their approval, this has nothing to do with the Cabinet. (Leave aside for now the troubling fact that while he was a member he had long concealed doing what he oughtn’t have done, and his subsequent bad taste in refusing to take responsibility for bad supervision of his secretaries by resigning from the Diet — not exactly a great and noble guy.) The minister formerly known as “Pantsu” remains in the Cabinet, and given how long and how high Amari flew before his scandal went public, the public maybe should be a little more worried about revelations of more scandals to come. Oddest of all, the public approves the Cabinet even though the guy replacing Amari knows nothing about the TPP, which almost 70% of respondents say is important enough to warrant stretching debate beyond the current session. Since apparently Aso and Amari hate Ishihara (a big reason why he was kept in the dark about TPP), maybe at least within the LDP this will make cracks in the floor underneath Abe, despite the public’s bamboozled contentment.