TOKYO — Over 60% of respondents in a recent opinion poll conducted jointly by the Mainichi Shimbun, a survey company, and a network of private broadcasters expressed their support for the new Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga — greatly exceeding the approval rating recorded when former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s second administration was inaugurated in December 2012.
The Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center carried out the opinion poll together with Japan News Network (JNN) on Sept. 17 following the launch of the new Cabinet the previous day. The support rate for the Suga administration was 64%, which largely surpassed the approval rating of 52% for the former Abe Cabinet, although the figures cannot be simply compared as the survey methods differ. Those opposing the new Cabinet stood at 27%.
When asked the reason for their support, the largest number, or 35%, responded, “It seems like I can have expectations for the new Cabinet’s policy measures.” Respondents apparently have high hopes for the Suga administration’s vision of abolishing bureaucratic sectionalism and vested interests.
Meanwhile, 30% answered, “The new Cabinet seems like it will carry on the Abe administration’s political agenda.” Suga is apparently receiving a certain amount of acclaim for his pledge to succeed Abe’s policies. Those who answered, “The prime minister has a likable personality,” stood at 27%, and it seems that his rural background and reputation of having worked his way up as a politician rather than relying on hereditary roots is having a favorable impression on the public.
Among those who disapproved on the new administration, 61% said, “It doesn’t seem any different from the Abe Cabinet,” while 20% answered, “It’s unlikely that I can expect much from the new Cabinet’s policies.” Also among the reasons for the lack of support was, “It is a ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito,” which gathered 10% of responses, followed by “I don’t like the prime minister’s personality,” which gathered 8%.
In response to a question asking in what field respondents wish to see a change from the Abe administration, “economic policy” topped the list of replies at 24%, while 21% answered “countermeasures against the novel coronavirus,” which Prime Minister Suga has emphasized as the top priority to tackle, and 19% raised “the prime minister’s approach to politics.”
Although Prime Minister Suga intends to continue the “Abenomics” economic policy mix promoted by the Abe administration, there seems to be a considerable number of voices seeking change.
It can be thought that criticism leveled at former Prime Minister Abe over issues of favoritism scandals including the heavily discounted sale of state-owned property to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen, and the establishment of a veterinary school in the Ehime Prefecture city of Imabari by Kake Educational Institution, as well as controversial cherry blossom-viewing parties hosted by Abe, has influenced the image of the new Cabinet.
When asked to choose between giving priority to holding an early snap election for the House of Representatives, or taking countermeasures against coronavirus infections, 72% answered that “novel coronavirus measures should be prioritized,” greatly exceeding 19% of respondents who were in favor of an early snap election. Those in favor of prioritizing coronavirus countermeasures saw an increase from the 65% recorded in a previous poll conducted on Sept. 8.
The survey combined methods of collecting responses by using short text messages on mobile phones and having respondents answer questions generated by automated voice response technology on landlines. A total of 711 valid answers were obtained through mobile phones, and 314 through landlines.
(Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)