(Mainichi: February 4, 2016 – p. 3)
Akane Imamura of the Mainichi Shimbun’s Poll Office responds to general questions about cabinet support ratings
Question: Last week a cabinet minister resigned. I heard, though, that the cabinet support rate increased despite that scandal. Why is that?
Answer: Former Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Akira Amari resigned on Jan. 28 amid allegations that he and his secretaries had received cash from a construction company. According to a nationwide opinion poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun on Jan. 30–31, the support rating for the Abe cabinet rose by 8 percentage points from the previous poll (Dec. 5–6, 2015) to reach 51%, thus recovering to the 50% level for the first time in a year and 10 months since the March 2014 poll.
Q: I would have thought that under the circumstances the cabinet support rate would usually decline.
A: There are various views as to why the rating did not decrease; some say that the support rating did not drop because the resignation was done cleanly. But what I noticed were the trends in the cabinet support rating among women. The support rate for the Abe cabinet started to decline last spring, falling all the way to 32% in August 2015. Public opinion was divided over the security-related legislation, and there was a trend at that time for those opposed to the legislation to shift to the nonsupport camp. If you look at the cabinet support rate by gender, you will see that the support rate declined more severely among women than among men. As of August 2015, the cabinet support rate among men was 40% while that among women was 26%. In other words, the gap between the sexes widened to 14 percentage points.
Q: So the cabinet support rating fell [in those days] because women did not like the cabinet.
A: I think there was that trend. By the December poll, the gap had shrunk to 10 points with the cabinet support rating among men at 49% and that among women at 39%. In the most recent poll, the gap was down to 6 points with the cabinet support rating among men at 54% and that among women at 48%. It is unclear why the women shifted back and came to support the cabinet again, but more women than men were opposed to the security-related legislation last year. However, when asked in the January poll if they “will take into account the enactment of the security legislation when deciding who to vote for in the Upper House elections,” 57% of men and 50% of women said yes.
Q: There is still great interest in the security-related legislation, isn’t there?
A: In comparison to last year, interest is gradually decreasing. I think it can be said that the decline in interest in the security legislation has weakened the trend among women to “abandon Abe” and is a factor now bolstering the cabinet support rate.