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Factors driving cabinet support and nonsupport

  • June 26, 2018
  • , Nikkei , p. 4
  • JMH Translation

According to the Nikkei [nationwide] public opinion poll, the cabinet support rate has entered the 30% range only twice since the launch of the second Abe cabinet: in the July 2015 poll conducted during the deliberations on the security legislation and in the July 2017 poll conducted right after the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, where the LDP suffered a crushing defeat. This suggests that about 30% of all pollees are staunch supporters of Abe.


This support is thought to be founded on approval of Abe’s economic policies. The poll conducted in July 2015 showed the lowest cabinet support rate since the launch of the second Abe cabinet. In that poll, 25% said that they both support the cabinet and Abenomics. This suggests that a certain percentage of people supported the cabinet because it approved of Abe’s economic policies, even when criticism of the administration was at its highest during the climax of deliberations on the security legislation.


The second driver of cabinet support is approval of Abe’s policies on foreign affairs and security. In the May 2014 poll, some 23% said they both supported the cabinet and approved of changing the interpretation of the Constitution to allow the exercise of the right of collective self-defense. One year later in June 2015, this group made up 22% of all pollees, essentially the same proportion. This means that about 20% of all pollees are strong cabinet supporters who approve of the prime minister’s security policy.


At the beginning of 2017, cabinet nonsupport was low, coming in at the 20% range. The percentage skyrocketed to 52%, though, in the poll taken in July that same year right after the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election. The lowest the nonsupport has dropped to since then is 36%, which was found in the February 2018 poll. This suggests that cabinet nonsupporters who are unlikely to change their stance even if the administration has a tailwind make up 30% to 40% of all pollees.


Since 2017, distrust of the prime minister as a person has made it hard for the nonsupport rate to drop. Even in early November 2017, when the support rate had stabilized after the sudden drop in July that year, some 32% of pollees said they “do not support the cabinet and do not trust the prime minister.” Some 30% do not support the cabinet because they distrust the prime minister.


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