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Cabinet support recovers as opposition party support remains sluggish, media outlet polls

The opinion poll jointly conducted by the Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) on Aug. 25–26 and the polls conducted by other media outlets around the same time show similar trends. In a comparison of the poll results for the Abe cabinet support rate, party support rates, and preferences for the next Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president, all polls reveal that Prime Minister Abe (LDP president) is rebounding while opposition parties continue to be sluggish.


A comparison was made of the Sankei-FNN poll, the Yomiuri poll (jointly conducted with Nippon News Network [NNN] from July), Nikkei-TV Tokyo, and Kyodo News. The Yomiuri and Kyodo News conducted two polls in April, and the comparison was based on the April 20–22 Yomiuri poll and the April 14–15 Kyodo News poll.


In all the media outlet polls, cabinet nonsupporters outnumbered supporters in April and May. In the April Sankei poll, there was a 15.8 percentage point spread between the two figures. Support picked up in all the polls in May, and support exceeded nonsupport in June in all polls except for the Sankei. Backers of the Abe cabinet exceeded nonbackers in all polls including the Sankei in August. The cabinet support rate rose to 50% in the Yomiuri poll in August.


Turning to trends in political party support rates, backing for the LDP is rising in step with the upturn in the cabinet support rate. In the Sankei poll, LDP support went from 36.0% in April to 43.1% in August. Although the amount of uptick differs from poll to poll, the Yomiuri, the Nikkei, and the Kyodo News polls all found the LDP support rate at 40% or higher.


In contrast, there are no signs of a rise in support for the opposition parties. The main opposition party Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ) has a declining support rate.


In the Sankei poll, CDPJ support was 13.8% in April, but it dropped to 10.7% in August, barely making it into the double-digit range. In the November 2017 poll taken after the previous Lower House election, the party enjoyed a support rate of 15.3%.


The Yomiuri found the CDPJ support rate at 10% in April. It then dropped into the single digits from May and was 4% in August. In the Kyodo News poll, the CDPJ entered the single digits for the first time in August, falling to 8.8%. According to the Nikkei poll, the CDPJ enjoyed support of 14% of pollees in April, but its backing fell to 9% in June and narrowly returned to the double digits in July (12%) and August (10%).


The LDP will hold its presidential election on Sept. 20, and campaigning will start on Sept. 7. The race has turned into a one-on-one contest between Prime Minister Abe and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba. Across the board, all media polls find Abe in the lead.


The Sankei and Kyodo News polls in April and May reported that Ishiba was in the lead. In August, though, the Sankei poll found a 3.8 point spread between the two candidates, with Abe winning 38.9% of pollees’ backing and Ishiba earning 35.1%. In the Nikkei poll, 39% of respondents preferred the Prime Minister while 31% favored Ishiba, for an 8 point spread. Meanwhile, the Yomiuri poll found a 6 point spread with Abe at 42% and Ishiba at 36%. Similarly, Kyodo News found that Abe was ahead by 5.0 points, as the Prime Minister had the backing of 36.3% of pollees and Ishiba had the support of 31.3%.


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