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62% support Suga Cabinet, an initial approval rate second only to Koizumi and Hatoyama, NHK public opinion poll

In the latest NHK opinion poll, 62% of respondents said that they support the Suga Cabinet, which was launched last week on Sept. 16. This initial approval rate ranks below that of the cabinet led by Koizumi Junichiro (81%) and by Hatoyama Yukio (72%) and is about the same as the initial support rating for the first and second Abe Cabinets, the Kan Cabinet, and the Noda Cabinet. No direct comparison can be made, however, because polling methodologies differ.


NHK conducted a nationwide survey over the two-day period of Sept. 21–22, 2020, on a computer-aided random digit dialing (RDD) basis and targeted men and women aged 18 or over with calls placed to landline and mobile phone numbers. Valid responses were received from 1,270 of the 2,214 people polled. The valid response rate was 57%.


In the poll, 62% of the respondents said they support the Suga Cabinet, while 13% said they do not.


When asked why they support the Abe Cabinet, 26% of cabinet backers said “because it is a better alternative to other possible cabinets,” while 21% said “because Suga is trustworthy,” and another 21% said “because I am hopeful about its policies. Meanwhile, 15% said “because Suga is a man of action,” and 13% said “because the cabinet is led by the political party I support.”


Asked why they do not support the cabinet, 33% said “because nothing can be expected of its policies,” 16% said “because is not a cabinet of the party I support,” another 16% said “because there are other possible cabinets that would be better,” 14% said “because Suga is untrustworthy,” and 8% said “because Suga is not a man of action.”


Views on Suga’s continuation of Abe Cabinet policies


Asked whether Suga should carry on the policies of his predecessor, 17% said “he should,” 36% said “it would be better if he did,” 20% said “it would be better if he did not” and 18% said “he should not.”


Views on this matter differed by political party supported and age group. A total of 70% of ruling party supporters said either “he should carry on the policies of his predecessor” or “it would be better if he did,” while only slightly less than 30% of those supporting an opposition party gave these responses. Meanwhile, independents were split on the issue.


By age group, those age 70 or over were split on the issue, while those in their 60s or younger who said Suga should continue Abe’s policies outnumbered those giving negative responses.


Expectations of the Suga Cabinet


Asked what they expect most from the Suga Cabinet, 25% of respondents said “measures to deal with the coronavirus,” 20% said “economic measures,” 17% said “social security system reform,” 14% said “dispelling public mistrust in politics,” 9% said “deregulation” and 7% said “diplomacy and national security.”


By age group, 37% of those age 18 to 39 said that they want most for the Suga Cabinet to take “measures to restore the economy.” Some 25% of those in their 50s cited “coronavirus countermeasures” and another 25% said “economic measures.” Compared with other age groups, a higher percentage of those age 60 or over said they are looking for Suga to dispel public mistrust in politics.


By political party supported, many ruling party supporters and independents said “coronavirus countermeasures” and “economic measures” while opposition party supporters said “dispel public distrust.”


Evaluation of appointments to Cabinet and LDP board


Asked how they view the appointments to the Cabinet and to Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leadership positions overall, 8% said they “view them very highly” and 53% said that they ”view them somewhat highly” while 22% said that they “do not view them very highly” and 7% said that they “do not view them highly at all.


Timing of next general election


Asked when the Lower House should be dissolved and a general election held and given three options to choose from, 15% said “before the end of this year,” 14% said “in the first half of 2021” and 58% said “around October next year, when the current Lower House members’ terms end.” This last figure is up 9 percentage points from the August poll.


By political party supported, 61% of ruling party supporters said “around October next year,” about the same as last month (60%). In contrast, the percentage of opposition party supporters and independents giving that answer rose from the 40% range in the August poll to the 60% range in the recent poll.


Views on the Abe Cabinet


The Abe administration was in place for seven years and eight months. Asked how they viewed that cabinet’s performance, 14% said that they “think very highly of it,” and 49% said they “think somewhat highly of it” while 21% said they “do not think very highly of it” and 9% said they “do not think highly of it at all.”


Most highly viewed achievement of the Abe Cabinet


Asked which of the Abe Cabinet achievements they view most highly and given six options to choose from, 28% said “foreign affairs and security,” 15% said “economic policies,” 15% said “workstyle reform,” 10% said “childrearing support and measures to address the decline in the birthrate” while 7% said “consumption tax hike” and 6% said they “social security.”


Views on new opposition party


The poll asked respondents how hopeful they are about the new Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDPJ), which was newly formed through a merger of the former CDPJ and other opposition elements. 7% said that they “are very optimistic,” and 25% said “somewhat optimistic” while 36% said “not very optimistic” and 24% said “not optimistic at all.”


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