• Kyodo


Some 65.8 percent of voters were against the Diet’s passage earlier in the month of a bill to accept more foreign blue-collar workers from April, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

In a nationwide opinion poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, 24.8 percent of respondents said they support the Diet’s approval of the bill to accept up to 345,150 foreign migrant workers over five years to address the nation’s labor shortage.

The ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, steamrolled the bill through the Lower House in late November despite opposition criticism that the hastily crafted bill lacked details. The bill cleared the Upper House on Dec. 8.

The approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet declined to 42.4 percent from 47.3 percent in the previous survey, which was carried out in early November, while the disapproval rate increased 4.6 points to 44.1 percent.

The latest survey suggests voters’ views of the government’s plan to attract more foreign workers under the new visa system has somewhat changed following the Diet wrangling. The previous survey, carried out in November before the Diet voted on the bill, showed 51.3 percent were supportive of it, with 39.5 percent against it.

On the territorial row between Japan and Russia, 53.2 percent said Abe’s government should first focus on the handover of two of the four disputed islands in peace treaty negotiations before seeking to resolve the issue of the status of the remaining two islands, known as Northern Territories in Japan and the Southern Kurils in Russia, according to the poll.

Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed in November to speed up peace treaty talks based on the 1956 joint declaration.

The declaration says the island of Shikotan and the Habomai islet group — two of four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido seized by the Soviet Union after Japan’s surrender at the end of World War II in August 1945 — will be handed over to Japan following the conclusion of a peace treaty.

The poll showed 28.6 percent believe the government should seek the handover of all the disputed islands.

On another topic, some 56.5 percent said they do not support the government’s decision to start full-fledged landfill work for the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma within Okinawa Prefecture given local opposition. Some 35.3 percent said they support it.

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