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Hopes rising for Abe to continue as LDP president as 53% have “high regard” for administration, Sankei-FNN poll

According to the opinion poll jointly conducted by the Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) [on Jan. 20–21], some 53.3% of respondents said they “think highly” of the Shinzo Abe administration, which has been in office since December 2012. Some 39.6% said they did not. Moreover, the cabinet support rate has returned to the 50% range. There is an increasing desire for Prime Minister Abe to win the September election and continue as Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president.

 

Looking at the poll results by political party supported, some 81.9% of LDP supporters and 61.0% of Komeito supporters said they think highly of the Abe administration. It seems that pollees appreciate the results the administration has produced through its foreign affairs and security policies and through the Prime Minister’s economic policy package known as Abenomics. Some 88.2% of Japanese Communist Party (JCP) supporters and 73.0% of Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) supporters said they do not think much of the administration’s performance.

 

Asked who among LDP Diet members would be appropriate as the next prime minister, 31.7% of pollees said Shinzo Abe, making him the top-ranked. Ranked second was former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba at 20.6%. Although Ishiba edged out Abe in the July and August 2017 polls, the Prime Minister has returned to the top position.

 

Third in the ranking was LDP Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi at 18.1%. LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, who is eyeing a smooth transfer of power and has not stated whether he will run in the LDP presidential race this autumn, was backed by 6% while Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda, who has publicly announced her candidacy, was supported by 4.1% and Foreign Minister Taro Kono by 5.0%.

 

Some 57.6% of LDP supporters would like to see Abe continue to lead the party, well outdistancing the next-ranked Shigeru Ishiba, who was backed by 17.4%. This suggests that Abe has the dominant position as he seeks a third term.

 

Abe was also the top-ranked person for next prime minister among women pollees at 28.1%. Shinjiro Koizumi beat Shigeru Ishiba for second place at 21.7% to 17.2%.

 

Who do you think would be suitable as the next prime minister? (%)

Rank

Dec. 2016 poll

July 2017 poll

August 2017 poll

Jan. 2018 poll

1

Shinzo Abe

34.5

Shigeru Ishiba

20.4

Shigeru Ishiba

23.0

Shinzo Abe

31.7

2

Shinichiro Koizumi

11.1

Shinzo Abe

19.7

Shinzo Abe

22.6

Shigeru Ishiba

20.6

3

Shigeru Ishiba

10.9

Shinichiro Koizumi

9.0

Shinichiro Koizumi

10.8

Shinichiro Koizumi

18.1

4

Yuriko Koike

9.5

Yuriko Koike

8.9

Fumio Kishida

9.2

Fumio Kishida

6.0

5

Toru Hashimoto

6.7

Fumio Kishida

5.3

Seiko Noda

4.7

Taro Kono

5.0

6

Renho

4.7

Toru Hashimoto

3.9

Taro Aso

4.5

Seiko Noda

4.1

 

67% would like to see Diet focus more on constitutional amendment

 

In the Sankei-FNN joint poll, some 67.2% of pollees said they would like to see the Diet debate constitutional amendment more, easily exceeding the 29.6% who disagreed. The LDP is looking to have the Diet initiate amendments as soon as possible, but the poll revealed that many think there is no need for amendments to be initiated this year. To amend the Constitution, it will be important not just to have Diet debate but also to further galvanize public opinion.

 

Some 58.0% of respondents are in favor of explicitly stating the existence of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) in the Constitution, while only 33.0% said they are opposed. Some 63.4% of supporters of Komeito, which has a markedly cautious stance on writing the SDF into the Constitution, said they are in favor.

 

Asked when would be a good time for the Diet to initiate constitutional amendments, 48.9% said that “it does not have to be within the year,” while 22.5% said it should be done “within the year.”

 

By political party supported, some 80.9% of LDP supporters said the Diet “should engage in more intensive discussions on constitutional revision. Some 83.3% of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) supporters thought the same, as did 63.4% of Komeito supporters.

 

Only 38.5% of Party of Hope supporters, however, said that the Diet should energize discussions on the Constitution despite the fact that the party had adopted a forward-looking stance on constitutional amendment at the time of the Lower House election last year. This is even lower than the figure for supporters of the CDPJ (48.6%), which is opposed to the revision of Article 9 under the Abe administration. The majority of Party of Hope, Democratic Party, and JCP supporters said it is not necessary for the Diet to boost the discussion.

 

On an NHK program on Jan. 21, Party of Hope Acting Secretary-General Shuhei Kishimoto emphasized that his party is opposed to Prime Minister Abe’s proposal to explicitly state the existence of the SDF in the Constitution while leaving paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 9 untouched. At present, those amenable to initiating constitutional amendment make up more than two-thirds of the Lower and Upper Houses even without the Party of Hope. A concurring vote of two-thirds or more of all the members of each house is required to initiate amendments. If the opposition parties decide to unanimously oppose the LDP’s amendment proposals, however, it would make it harder to bring the matter to the public in a national referendum.

 

Views on constitutional amendment, by political party supported (%)

 

Do you think the Diet should engage more intensively in discussions on constitutional amendment?

Are you in favor of explicitly stating the existence of the SDF in the Constitution?

 

Yes

No

Other

Yes

No

Other

LDP

80.9

15.7

3.4

78.4

16.4

5.1

CDPJ

48.6

48.6

2.7

28.4

60.8

10.8

Party of Hope

38.5

61.5

0

30.8

53.8

15.4

Komeito

63.4

26.8

9.8

63.4

17.1

19.5

DP

28.6

71.4

0

28.6

57.1

14.3

JCP

38.2

61.8

0

35.3

61.8

2.9

Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party)

83.3

16.7

0

76.7

20.0

3.3

 

[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 Jan. 20–21, 2018.]

 

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