(Yomiuri: February 1, 2016 – p. 2)
In light of the resignation of former Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Akira Amari, the Yomiuri Shimbun conducted a nationwide spot opinion poll [on Jan. 30–31]. The poll found that the cabinet support rate has remained more or less steady. The government and ruling parties are relieved that “damage to the administration has been contained.”
According to the survey, more than half, or 57%, of respondents said that Prime Minister Abe’s handling of the issue was “appropriate.” Abe’s approach of accepting the resignation of his ally Amari and immediately appointing a successor apparently prevented a decline in the support rate.
On Jan. 31, Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki said, “I was concerned that the support rate might drop sharply, so I am relieved. I will humbly continue to do my best at the Diet.” Another LDP leader added, “It looks like the people viewed the Prime Minister’s damage control efforts favorably.”
In the spot poll conducted in October 2014 after Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi and Justice Minister Midori Matsushima resigned over “politics and money” scandals, the cabinet support rate dropped 9 percentage points from 62% to 53%. People connected with the government see this time’s survey results as “showing that the people expect the administration to dedicate itself to economic policies with the low stock prices worldwide.” The government and ruling parties plan to pass the fiscal 2016 budget bill as soon as possible and to continue to prioritize the economy.
Meanwhile, the opposition parties are planning to continue to pursue the allegations against Amari regarding the illegal contributions. Speaking to the press in Tokyo on Jan. 31, Democratic Party of Japan President Katsuya Okada said, “This matter has not been resolved. It has deep roots.” On an NHK program that same day, Goshi Hosono, chair of the DPJ Policy Research Committee, demanded that Amari be summoned as an unsworn witness before the Diet. However, there is also a sense at the DPJ of things being at a deadlock as (according to a middle-echelon member) “it is hard to take further actions because Amari resigned quickly and cleanly.” Japan Innovation Party Secretary-General Masato Imai also said on Jan. 31, “Amari’s performance at the press conference was masterful. The public must have thought he handled his resignation perfectly.”