The Nikkei public opinion poll [conducted on Jan. 26–28] asked respondents who they thought it would be appropriate to elect president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in the election to be held this September. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the current LDP president, was the most frequently selected at 35%. Next was LDP Chief Deputy Secretary-General Shinjiro Koizumi at 18% and third was former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba at 17%. Only 5% of respondents named LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida, placing him fourth. Fifth were Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Seiko Noda at 4% each.
Among LDP supporters, 60% thought Abe is best as the next LDP president, easily outdistancing second-place Koizumi (15%). In the 2012 party presidential race, Ishiba garnered far more votes from the party’s local delegates than did Abe, before losing to him in the final ballot. In the recent poll, however, support for Ishiba was only 11% among LDP backers; this ranked him a mere third. Ishiba has indicated a desire to run in the election, but he faces the issue of increasing support.
Some 20% of independents said Abe was most appropriate as the next LDP president, giving Abe a lead of only 3 percentage points over Ishiba, who was selected by 17% of independents. Koizumi was close behind at 16%.
The Nikkei poll conducted on Aug. 3–4 last year asked respondents: “Who do you think is appropriate to serve as the next prime minister?” A direct comparison with the recent poll cannot be made because the question was phrased differently in August and the list of responses included non-LDP Diet members. In the August 2017 poll, however, Ishiba was ranked first at 22%. Abe and Koizumi followed at 17% and 11%, respectively.
However, when asked if they are in favor of or opposed to Prime Minister Abe being elected to a third term as party president and continuing as prime minister, 45% of all respondents in the recent poll said they are in favor while 45% said they are opposed.
Among LDP supporters, the percentage in favor of Abe continuing rose to 76%, vastly exceeding the 17% who said they are opposed. Only 5% of cabinet nonsupporters want to see Abe continue, and 90% are opposed to it.
55% are in favor of Abe attending PyeongChang Olympics
In the Nikkei public opinion poll, some 55% said that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should attend the opening ceremony for the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on Feb. 9, while 33% said he should not.
The poll also asked respondents how the international community should handle North Korea as it persists in conducting missile launches and developing nuclear weapons. Pollees were given three responses to choose from. The most frequently given response was “economic sanctions should be strengthened” at 52%. Some 29% said “the situation should be resolved through talks” while 11% said “military action should be considered.”
[Polling methodology: The survey was conducted on Jan. 26–28 by Nikkei Research Inc. via random-digit dialing (RDD) to both landlines and mobile phones. It drew 969 responses from men and women aged 18 and older nationwide, for a response rate of 45.5%.]