• Kyodo


The public support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet has fallen slightly to 43.3 percent, with many calling for respecting a recent local referendum that rejected a plan to relocate a U.S. air base within Okinawa Prefecture, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

In the nationwide telephone poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, a large majority of respondents also indicated their disappointment at the country’s tepid economic recovery and the government’s response to a labor data scandal.

The Cabinet approval rate fell 2.3 percentage points from the previous survey in early February, while the disapproval rate was almost unchanged at 40.9 percent.

On the Okinawa prefectural referendum in February regarding the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, 68.7 percent of respondents said the central government should respect the outcome while 19.4 percent said there is no need to do so.

Supporters of the government’s policy to push ahead with the current Futenma relocation plan came to 37.2 percent, down 2.2 points from the previous survey. But opponents also fell to 48.9 percent while those who did not take either side or did not answer the question rose 4.9 points to 13.9 percent.

In the nonbinding poll, more than 70 percent of voters in the island prefecture rejected the relocation plan, which originated in an agreement reached between the Japanese and U.S. governments in 1996. But the Abe government has continued to proceed with the work to build a replacement facility for the Futenma base.

The telephone survey also showed that 84.5 percent do not actually feel that the Japanese economy is recovering, even though Abe is counting on the success of his Abenomics policy mix to maintain public support for his Liberal Democratic Party ahead of the House of Councilors election in the summer.

Adding to concerns over the economic situation, the government earlier in the month downgraded its assessment of a key indicator of economic trends, which suggested that Japan may have already entered a recessionary phase rather than marking its longest growth streak since the end of World War II, as previously believed.

A total of 54.4 percent opposed Abe’s decision to raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent from the current 8 percent in October, up 3.4 points from the previous survey. Supporters of the tax hike stood at 39.9 percent, down 5.1 points.

The scandal on faulty labor ministry jobs data also appears to be casting a shadow over the support rate for the Abe government.

A total of 70.7 percent said they are not satisfied with the outcome of the latest government probe into the issue, which denied there was a systematic cover-up. About 13 percent responded otherwise.

The scandal involving sampling irregularities led to the underpayment of work-related benefits to more than 20 million people and cast doubt over the accuracy of government statistics.

Regarding the Upper House election, 32.3 percent said they would vote for the LDP in the proportional representation section, down 3.8 points from the previous survey, and 10.0 percent said they would vote for the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, down 0.3 points.

As for support rates by party, the LDP remained the most popular with 38.3 percent, followed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan at 10.5 percent.

Abe’s long-standing ambition to amend the postwar Constitution for the first time was opposed by 51.4 percent, while 33.9 percent were in favor.

The survey covered 740 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,218 mobile phone numbers, obtaining responses from 516 and 513 people, respectively.

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