(Tokyo Shimbun: November 6, 2015 – p. 2)
In the wake of the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, the support rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his cabinet among the nation’s farmers was down to 18%, according to findings from an attitude survey conducted by the Nihon Nogyo Shimbun (Japan Agricultural News), a newspaper for agricultural interests. The figure is less than half the cabinet support rating in a public opinion survey that was conducted by Kyodo News almost at the same time. The survey results clearly show fierce opposition from the nation’s farming population to the TPP deal.
The survey is conducted occasionally, targeting the nation’s farmers and Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu) employees to probe their attitudes. In the survey, the Abe cabinet’s support rate was around 60% over a period of about six months since his return to power with his rebooted cabinet in December 2012. Thereafter, however, the Abe cabinet’s support rate was on the decline. It dropped to 36% in July this year shortly after an amendment to the Agricultural Cooperatives Law cleared the House of Representatives. The drop was attributable to dissatisfaction with the government against such legislative measures as changing the status of JA-Zenchu from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries’ authorized corporation to a general incorporated association.
In the survey conducted after the Oct. 5 TPP agreement, the Abe cabinet’s support rate shrank to 18%, half the 36% rating in July. Respondents were also asked about a Diet resolution that sought to treat five critical farm products, including rice, as exceptions to the abolition of tariffs. In response to this question, a total of 69% answered that the TPP deal is “against the Diet resolution,” calling into question the government’s assertion that it followed the resolution. In the Kyodo News survey conducted at the same time, the Abe cabinet’s support rate was 44.8%, up 5.9 percentage points from the previous survey in September. (Abridged)