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Cabinet support rate plummets to 34.7%, lowest ever for second Abe cabinet, Sankei-FNN poll

According to the opinion poll jointly conducted by the Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) on July 22–23, support for the Shinzo Abe cabinet was 34.7%, down 12.9 percentage points from the previous poll (conducted on June 17–18). The nonsupport rate was 56.1%, up 13.2 points. The support rate is the lowest it has ever been and the nonsupport rate the highest it has ever been since the launch of the second Abe cabinet in December 2012.


29% say they trust the prime minister


The public’s dissatisfaction with the government’s handling of Kake Educational Foundation’s plan to open a new veterinary department and the various scandals related to Defense Minister Tomomi Inada is thought to have heavily influenced this drop in the support rate.


The poll also showed the public is taking a harsh view not only of the cabinet but of Prime Minister Abe himself. Only 29.6% of pollees said that they “trust” the prime minister while 63.8% said they do not.


At the out-of-session meeting of the Lower House budgetary committee on July 24, the prime minister said with reference to the decline in the support rate found in various media outlets’ public opinion polls: “I take [the drop in the cabinet approval rating] very seriously as the voice of the people.”


The support rate has been on the decline now for three consecutive months. This is the first time in one year and 10 months since September 2015 for the nonsupport rate to exceed the support rate. The lowest support rate for the second Abe cabinet was 39.3% in the July 2015 poll conducted soon after the Lower House passed the security legislation, which allows for the exercise of the right to collective self-defense.


Regarding the approval of the new veterinary school by Kake Educational Institution, the poll asked respondents if they found more persuasive the argument of former MEXT Administrative Vice Minister Kihei Maekawa, who is critical of the Abe administration, or that of former Ehime Prefecture Governor Moriyuki Kato, who backs the administration. Some 52.2% said Maekawa was more convincing while 23.5% said Kato was.


As president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Prime Minister Abe has indicated his desire to revise the constitution. Some 55.3% of pollees indicated they are in favor of explicitly stating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces while retaining Article 9 as it stands, while 31.3% said they are opposed. As in the previous poll, those in favor exceeded those opposed.


However, those disapproving of the plan proposed by Prime Minister Abe for the LDP to draft and submit to the Diet by year-end constitutional amendment proposals exceeded those backing the plan, 49.0% to 41.2%.


The political party support rates were as follows: LDP, 29.1%, down 6.9 points; Democratic Party, 7.0%; Komeito, 5.3%; Japanese Communist Party, 4.6%; Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), 3.2%.


[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted until the calculated number of responses was obtained by placing telephone calls on a random digit dialing (RDD) basis adjusted to the gender and age composition of each survey area. A total of 1,000 men and women, aged 18 and over, across the nation were surveyed. The survey was conducted on July 22–23, 2017.]


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