A Mainichi Shimbun nationwide public opinion poll conducted on Sept. 3–4 found that 48% of respondents are “opposed” to having Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel engage in “rush-to-the-rescue” missions, while 39% are “in favor.” In a “rush-to-the-rescue” mission (kaketsuke-keigo), Self-Defense Forces (SDF) personnel who are dispatched overseas to engage in United Nations peacekeeping operations go to the aid of foreign troops and civilians under attack in remote areas. “Rush-to-the-rescue” missions are allowed under the new security-related laws that came into force in March this year. The survey also asked pollees whether they expect progress to be made in the dispute over the Northern Territories, following the Sept. 2 talks between Prime Minister Abe and Russian President Vladimir Putin. While 62% of respondents said they have expectations for progress in the territory talks, 31% said they have no such expectations. Those who expressed a sense of hope appear to be banking on the additional Abe-Putin meetings scheduled for November and December.
With “rush-to-the-rescue” set to be a new mission of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) unit to be dispatched to South Sudan as early as November, drills are scheduled to start later this month. Among supporters of the Abe cabinet, 58% approved of the new duty while 29% opposed it. Among non-supporters of the cabinet, 77% were against it, well over the 14% who were in favor of it. The poll results appear to have been divided due to differing opinions on the expansion of the SDF’s role and the potential risks entailed.
58% disapprove of Japan’s contributing funds to the comfort women foundation
With regard to the Aug. 24 agreement between Japanese and South Korean foreign ministers that Tokyo will pay about 10 million yen to each former wartime “comfort woman” through a foundation set up by South Korea for the settlement of the issue, 58% of pollees said they did not approve of the bilateral accord, while 30% said they did. Among cabinet supporters and non-supporters, 56% and 60%, respectively, said they disapproved of the agreement.
Liberal Democratic Party Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai and other party officials have endorsed the proposal to extend Prime Minister Abe’s term as LDP president beyond his current tenure, which will expire in September 2018. When asked about Abe’s term as president, some 53% of respondents said “it is not necessary to extend his term,” while 35% said “it would be good to extend his term.” The survey results on this issue remained essentially the same from the previous poll conducted in August. Among LDP supporters, 66% said “it would be good to extend his term.”
The cabinet approval rate among respondents dropped to 46%, down 1 percentage point from the previous survey, while the disapproval rate rose by 1 percentage point to 35%.
[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted during the two-day period of Sept. 3–4 over the telephone across the nation on a computer-aided random digit sampling (RDS) basis. The survey excluded telephone numbers in municipalities designated as “difficult-to-return” zones due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. A total of 1,708 households with one or more persons age 18 or over were sampled. Responses were obtained from 1,025 persons (60%).]