(Tokyo Shimbun: July 18, 2015 – p. 6)
According to findings from a public opinion survey conducted by Jiji Press on July 10-13, the rate of public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet plunged to 40.1%, down 5.7 percentage points from the last survey in the preceding month. The nonsupport rate was 39.5%. The Abe cabinet’s support and nonsupport rates are now almost equal. The Abe cabinet’s support rate dropped to the lowest level since Prime Minister Abe’s return to power in late 2012, with its nonsupport rate hitting an all-time high.
One reason for this is that there has been little progress in the general public’s understanding of the government’s proposed security-related legislative measures featuring a bill that allows Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense. Another reason is that a study group of lawmakers with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan held a meeting during which they made insulting remarks about Okinawa. The issue of the new national stadium’s growing construction cost is an additional factor.
In the survey, respondents were asked whether they think the Abe administration has sufficiently explained the security legislation. In response to this question, “yes” accounted for a total of 12.8%, with “no” totaling 73.7%. In the meantime, respondents were also asked whether they think the security legislation is constitutional. To this question, “yes” accounted for a total of only 19.8%, with “no” totaling 53.8%, or more than half.
The Abe cabinet’s support rate sustained a drop of over 5 percentage points for the first time since it dropped 6.4 points in the July 2014 survey. At that time as well, the Abe cabinet decided to change the government’s conventional interpretation of the Constitution in order to allow Japan to exercise the right of collective self-defense.
The survey was conducted on a face-to-face interview basis, targeting a total of 2,000 persons chosen from among men and women aged 20 and over across the nation. The retrieval rate was 63.9%. (Abridged)