JPP: Abe government’s approval ratings stabilize, but public still cool towards policies

Tobias Harris
March 14, 2016

The Japan Political Pulse aggregates major opinion polls conducted by Japanese media outlets in order to provide a more accurate picture of the Abe government’s public approval rating. In addition to aggregating multiple polls, Sasakawa USA’s fellows also will provide occasional commentary on noteworthy data points in recent surveys. Click here to view the full JPP chart.

 

JPP: Abe government’s approval ratings stabilize, but public still cool towards policies

New polls from NHK and the Asahi Shimbun show that the Abe government’s support remains stable despite the public’s negative attitudes regarding the government’s policies.

In NHK’s poll, conducted March 11-14 with a sample size of 1,036 respondents, the cabinet’s approval rating fell four points to 46%, while its disapproval rating rose three points to 37%. In Asahi’s poll, conducted March 12-13 with a sample of 1,882 respondents, the government’s support actually rose four points to 44% and its disapproval fell three points to 35%. These headline figures show that the administration’s support remains stable despite the public’s unease about its program and despite opposition party efforts to rally support ahead of the forthcoming House of Councillors (HOC) elections.

Reflecting the emergence of childcare availability as a major political issue after an anonymous blog post on the issue went viral, both Asahi and NHK polls found that voters are disappointed in the government’s policies for supporting childrearing.

If anything, support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is strengthening. Asahi found that overall support for the LDP rose six points to 40%, and the party’s likely support in the proportional representation (PR) voting in the HOC elections also rose six points to 37%. Meanwhile, the soon-to-be-renamed Democratic Party of Japan’s (DPJ) support in PR voting fell three points to 13%. Moreover, voters remain unconvinced that the DPJ’s impending merger with the Japan Innovation Party (JIP)—which has 0% support—will make much of a difference: only 31% of respondents are optimistic about the merger that will form the newly named Democratic Innovation Party. NHK’s respondents are even more pessimistic. Only 25% are either greatly (4%) or somewhat (21%) optimistic.

But voters are otherwise lukewarm about the Abe administration’s priorities. 62% of Asahi respondents do not think its economic policies are linked with rising wages and employment, while NHK respondents were only slightly more positive than negative towards Abenomics (48% favorable versus 46% unfavorable, with 5% greatly favorable and 43% somewhat favorable versus 35% not very favorable and 11% not at all favorable).

Meanwhile, reflecting the emergence of childcare availability as a major political issue after an anonymous blog post on the issue went viral, both Asahi and NHK polls found that voters are disappointed in the government’s policies for supporting childrearing. Asahi found only 26% of respondents are optimistic, while 58% are not; NHK found only 9% believe that the government has “thoroughly dealt with” the issue, compared with 47% who say that it has not, and 35% who cannot say. The large share of undecideds in the NHK poll suggest that it is too early to say how this issue will affect the Abe administration: if the government is perceived as being indifferent or ineffectual, it could give the opposition parties a useful issue with which to rally support ahead of the HOC elections.

Finally, as the prime minister begins deliberations on whether to raise the consumption tax from 8% to 10% in April 2017, NHK found a sizable plurality—45%—opposed to the tax hike, with 22% in favor and 29% undecided.

 

 

 

 

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