In a Mainichi Shimbun nationwide survey conducted on March 11–12, respondents were split over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s serving a third term as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president, with 45% saying that “it would be good if he continued as LDP president” and 41% saying that “it would be good if he were replaced by someone else.” However, 73% of LDP supporters thought it would be good if Abe continued as party president.
At its party convention on March 5, the LDP decided to lengthen the term of its president from “two consecutive three-year terms for a total of six years” to “three consecutive three-year terms for a total of nine years.” This means that it is possible for the prime minister to continue as party president after completing his second term in September 2018. Many independents, Democratic Party supporters, and Japanese Communist Party supporters said that someone else should be party president.
The government plans to submit a bill to amend the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes to criminalize acts by organized crime groups to prepare to commit crimes. The bill narrows the structural elements of “conspiracy” from those in the three bills that have failed in the past, and changes the focus to “acts to prepare to commit terrorism or the like.” The types of crimes covered have also been reduced from the original 676 to 277. The opposition parties, however, have pointed out that ordinary citizens could become targets of investigations. Some 41% of respondents said that they are opposed to the bill while 30% are in favor.
In Mainichi Shimbun’s January poll, 53% said they are in favor of the bill and 30% indicated they are opposed, but a simple comparison of the polls cannot be made because the questions were phrased differently. “No answer” made up 29% of respondents in the March poll, hinting that the content of the legislative amendment has not been sufficiently conveyed to the public.
To strengthen measures against “secondhand smoking,” the government is working to revise legislation to make restaurants and bars, excluding small establishments, nonsmoking in principle. Over half of respondents (58%) thought that the regulation was “appropriate.” Meanwhile, 23% found the rule “harsh” and 5% found it “lax.”
[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted by pollsters during the two-day period of Mar. 11–12 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 1,597 households with one or more persons age 18 or over were sampled. Responses were obtained from 1,012 persons (63%).]