National / Politics

Few in Japan dare to hope for a nuke-free Korean Peninsula: survey

Kyodo

Nearly 80 percent of respondents in Japan were negative about the prospects for a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula despite last week’s historic summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the latest Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

The poll, conducted by telephone Saturday and Sunday across the nation, showed that 77.6 percent do not think the Korean Peninsula will be denuclearized and only 16.4 percent think it will.

On Tuesday, Kim pledged to work toward the “complete” denuclearization of the peninsula, while Trump committed to provide security guarantees to Pyongyang. But the two did not mention a timeline on the process.

On a widely rumored summit between Kim and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 81.4 percent said the meeting should be held and 13.3 percent said it was unnecessary, the survey showed.

In the meantime, Abe’s diplomacy produced a split, with 44.2 percent of respondents positive and 46.1 percent negative, it showed.

Sources have said Tokyo is looking to arrange an Abe-Kim summit in September in the Vladivostok on the sidelines of an annual economic forum that could see Kim take part. Abe has also expressed willingness to attend the event.

But Abe is unlikely to meet Kim if the summit is unlikely to bear fruit.

“Their meeting will not have much of a meaning if they just get together for talks. It needs to bear fruit, and I don’t have a specific timing in mind,” Foreign Minister Taro Kono told an NHK program Sunday.

Kono also repeated that Japan is ready to offer economic assistance if and when the abduction issue is resolved and when the two countries normalize diplomatic relations.

The latest survey also showed that the approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet had risen to 44.9 percent, up from 38.9 percent in May and 37.0 percent in April. The April figure was the second-lowest in Kyodo’s polling since Abe returned to power in 2012.

The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile declined to 43.2 percent, from 50.3 percent in May and 52.6 percent in April.

On who should be elected in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election in September, Abe and Shinjiro Koizumi, a rising star who is the son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, both garnered 26.1 percent to top the list.

Abe, the party’s current chief, and Koizumi, it chief deputy secretary-general, were closely followed by former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba at 24.1 percent. Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda came next at 4.0 percent, with former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at 3.1 percent and Kono at 2.9 percent.

On the Finance Ministry’s decision in early June to punish 20 officials including former senior bureaucrat Nobuhisa Sagawa for doctoring and destroying documents related to the ministry’s murky public land sale to Moritomo Gakuen, a nationalist school operator with ties to Abe’s wife, Akie, 78.5 percent said the issue remains unsettled.

Only 15.7 percent said issues involving the school operator, one of two entities involved in cronyism allegations against Abe, have been resolved.

By political party, the LDP remained the most popular, supported by 38.8 percent of respondents. It was followed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan at 12.2 percent, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, at 3.7 percent and the Japanese Communist Party at 2.5 percent.But a hefty 36.0 percent, rivaling the LDP’s support rate, said they don’t support any political party.