Yomiuri Shimbun March 2007 Opinion Poll (07-7)

Key Issues
  • Prime Minister Abe and the Abe Cabinet approval ratings
  • Constitution Reform
Dates Conducted

March 17 and 18, 2007

Methodology

Yomiuri conducted the poll in individual interviews on March 17 and 18 using a stratified two-stage random sample of 3,000 voters in 250 different locations. 1,741 people, or 58.0% of those selected, responded.

Background

The popularity of Prime Minister Abe and his administration has been on a relatively steady decline since his inauguration; public approval of the cabinet slipped down to a new low of 40.3%, actually surpassed by his disapproval rating for the first time.  One recurring issue addressed by Abe is the revision of the Japanese Constitution, including Article 9, which prevents Japanese participation in warfare outside of self-defense.  He considers it has become outdated six decades after its creation.

Survey

Q1. Do you support or not support the Abe Cabinet?

Support 43.8% (45.3)
Do not support 43.9% (42.7)
Other 4.4% (3.0)
Do not know; No answer 7.9% (9.0)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in February 2007.

 

SQ1. [Those who answered “support” in Q1 only]

Please select from the list below up to two reasons why you support the Abe Cabinet:

Positively evaluate its political stance 27.4% (31.3)
Feel that it is stable 9.2% (10.2)
Can trust the Prime Minister 27.6% (25.3)
Have a fresh image of the Prime Minister 43.4% (39.8)
Can support its economic policies 4.3% (5.5)
Can support its foreign policy 15.1% (17.8)
Because of the coalition between the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party 10.2% (10.4)
It is better than previous cabinets 10.4% (8.3)
Other; Do not know; No answer 3.9% (5.1)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in February 2007.

 

SQ2. [Those who answered “do not support” to Q1 only]
Please select from the list below up to two reasons why you do not support the Abe Cabinet:

Cannot positively evaluate its political stance 44.4% (38.6)
Do not feel that the cabinet is stable 32.0% (33.0)
Cannot trust the Prime Minister 27.3% (21.7)
The Prime Minister’s political experience is lacking 16.6% (17.4)
Cannot support the administration’s economic policies 19.3% (23.4)
Cannot support the administration’s foreign policy 10.7% (11.0)
Because of the coalition between the Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito Party 8.6% (10.6)
The current cabinet is worse than the previous ones 10.7% (8.2)
Other; Do not know; No answer 3.9% (4.2)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in February 2007.

 

Q2. From the list below, please select all applicable issues you would like the Abe Cabinet to prioritize and tackle.

Economic conditions/job security 50.0% (52.0)
Financial reconstruction 20.7% (21.1)
Tax reform and the issue of consumption tax 30.0% (28.5)
Social security reform including pension and healthcare 61.0% (61.7)
Support for child care and counter-measures for declining birth rates 30.6% (34.8)
Education reform 24.1% (23.3)
Administrative reform such as cutting back government employees 17.8% (18.5)
Problems of income disparities 26.9% (27.3)
Issues surrounding Yasukuni Shrine 6.0% (3.6)
Diplomacy toward Asia, including China and South Korea 17.6% (13.6)
Issues over North Korea 33.3% (32.8)
National defense and security 12.7% (9.7)
Constitutional reform 7.2% (6.2)
Disaster prevention and crisis management 9.0% (7.2)
Measures for preventing crimes and securing peace and order 18.4% (18.1)
Environmental protection 18.4% (17.9)
Food safety 13.2% (14.5)
Other; Nothing special; Do not know; No answer 2.8% (2.4)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in February 2007.

 

Q3. Which political party do you support right now? Please select one:

Liberal Democratic Party 36.4% (34.2)
Democratic Party ofJapan 11.3% (12.0)
New Komeito Party 2.1% (3.9)
Japan Communist Party 1.8% (1.4)
Social Democratic Party ofJapan 0.7% (1.0)
The People’s New Party 0.1% (0.3)
The New PartyNippon 0.1% (0.1)
Others — (—)
Do not support any party 46.0% (46.8)
Do not know; No answer 1.5% (0.5)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in February 2007

 

SQ1. [Those who answered “do not support any party” to Q3 only]
Please select from the list below any number of reasons why you do not support a party:

Does not follow-through on public commitments 14.8% (17.7)
No consideration of interests outside of those of the party 26.5% (22.2)
Repeating internal disputes 16.5% (18.7)
No resolution for the immediate problems 17.3% (19.1)
No trust for any party 26.6% (24.3)
Supporting a party will not change the politics anyway 47.8% (48.8)
No interest in politics 14.1% (17.0)
Others 1.5% (1.7)
Do not know, No answer 2.5% (3.0)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in June 2005

 

SQ2. [Those who answered “do not support any party” to Q3 only]
Please select from the list below one party you supported most recently for this past year if any:

Liberal Democratic Party 10.5%
Democratic Party ofJapan 11.5%
New Komeito Party 0.5%
Japan Communist Party 1.1%
Social Democratic Party ofJapan 1.4%
The People’s New Party
The New PartyNippon
Other parties
Did not support any party 69.6%
Do not know; No answer 5.4%

 

Q4. What sort of impression do you have of the Abe administration?  Please select from the list below the option closest to your opinion for the following five categories:

S1. Ability to perform

Soundly achieving results as proposed 19.5%
Ostentatious, lacking achievements 71.9%
Do not know; No answer 8.7%

 

S2. Leadership ability

Exhibits leadership qualities 16.1%
Does not exhibit leadership qualities 77.5%
Do not know; No answer 6.3%

 

S3. His own theory and beliefs

Puts his own theory and beliefs into action 47.7%
Does not put his own theory and beliefs into action 41.8%
Do not know; No answer 9.5%

 

S4. Posture on reform:

Proactive concerning reform 42.3%
Passive concerning reform 47.5%
Do not know; No answer 10.2%

 

S5. Feeling of affinity

Has affection for this administration 59.6%
Has no affection for this administration 34.9%
Do not know; No answer 5.5%

 

Q5. Do you have expectations concerning the Abe administration?

Yes, have expectations 27.6% (35.9)
Leaning towards ‘Yes’ 26.2% (29.1)
Leaning towards ‘No’ 20.0% (16.7)
No, does not have expectations 24.8% (16.2)
Does not know; No answer 1.4% (2.2)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in December 2006

 

Q6. In the half year since the inauguration of the Abe administration, its approval rating has been in a general decline, as displayed in public opinion polls.  What would you consider to be the cause of this decline?  Please select all applicable reasons from the list below:

The Prime Minister does not exhibit leadership over his cabinet or ruling party 43.7%
The Prime Minister does not put forth appropriate policy 21.0%
The Prime Minister does not sufficiently explain his policies to the citizenry 32.2%
The Prime Minister allowed those who opposed the privatization of Japan Post to rejoin the party 31.6%
The Prime Minister’s reform initiatives are too passive 15.2%
No outstanding achievements 33.9%
Scandals and verbal slips occur in succession among cabinet ministers 60.1%
Other 1.7%
No real reason 3.5%
Does not know; No answer 1.5%

 

Q7. Due to the scandals and verbal slippage among cabinet ministers, voices calling for a cabinet reshuffling before the House of Councilors election have appeared within the LDP.  Do you believe that Prime Minister Abe should or should not restructure the cabinet before the House of Councilors election?

Yes, I think so 30.3%
Leaning towards ‘yes’ 22.9%
Leaning towards ‘no’ 16.3%
No, I do not think so 21.9%
Does not know; No answer 8.6%

 

Q8. Almost half a year has passed since Prime Minister Abe’s inauguration.  As a whole, do you or do you not value the achievements of Prime Minister Abe and his administration from the past half-year?

Very much value 4.5% (6.6)
More or less value 31.8% (38.1)
Does not really value 40.3% (33.9)
Does not value at all 19.8% (11.2)
Does not know; No answer 3.6% (10.1)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in December 2006

 

Q9. Please select from the list below any achievements or interactions of Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet that you can support:

Relations with America 7.9%
Relations with China 17.5%
Relations with Korea 8.6%
Efforts toward the North Koreaissue 27.9%
Raising the status of the Japan Defense Agency to Ministry of Defense 11.0%
Efforts toward education reform, such as the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education 18.2%
Efforts toward problems such as the income gap 3.2%
Efforts toward the problem of Constitution reform 4.9%
Dealing with the problem of reintegrating back into the party Diet members that rebelled on account of the postal system [privatization] 3.4%
Dealing with the scandals or verbal slippage of cabinet ministers 3.3%
Dealing with the problem of political funds, such as office expenses 3.1%
Other 0.1%
None really 38.5%
Does not know; No answer 3.5%

 

Q10. Please select from the same list any achievements or interactions of Prime Minister Abe and his cabinet that you cannot support:

Relations with America 9.4%
Relations with China 10.8%
Relations with Korea 7.9%
Efforts toward the North Koreaissue 22.7%
Raising the status of the Japan Defense Agency to Ministry of Defense 8.6%
Efforts toward education reform, such as the revision of the Fundamental Law of Education 12.4%
Efforts toward problems such as the income gap 22.8%
Efforts toward the problem of Constitution reform 9.1%
Dealing with the problem of reintegrating back into the party Diet members that rebelled on account of the postal system [privatization] 31.6%
Dealing with the scandals or verbal slippage of cabinet ministers 53.9%
Dealing with the problem of political funds, such as office expenses 37.9%
Other 0.5%
None really 13.3%
Does not know; No answer 3.7%

 

Q11. In regard to the management of the current administration, who do you think possesses the most influential voice, and bears the most authority? Please select one from the list below:

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister 21.3%
Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Chief Cabinet Secretary 1.5%
Taro Aso, Minister of Foreign Affairs 7.1%
Hidenao Nakagawa, LDP Secretary-General 10.1%
Mikio Aoki, LDP Upper House caucus chief 4.4%
Junichiro Koizumi, former Prime Minister 17.1%
Yoshiro Mori, former Prime Minister 7.6%
Akihiro Ota, New Komeito Representative 0.8%
Someone else 0.5%
None, or does not know; no answer 29.6%

 

Q12. Do you have a strong impression that A) “The cabinet ministers are tackling matters of policy in a unified fashion,” or B) “The cabinet ministers are not unified”?

Strong impression of (A) 3.8%
Leaning towards (A) 9.6%
Leaning towards (B) 28.4%
Strong impression of (B) 54.2%
Does not know; No answer 4.0%

 

Q13. When you compare the general make-up or political technique of the current LDP to that of Koizumi’s administration, do you feel they have gotten better, worse, or stayed the same?

Has gotten better 2.0%
Leaning towards ‘better’ 6.2%
Has not changed 48.1%
Leaning towards ‘worse’ 22.7%
Has gotten worse 18.1%
Does not know; No answer 2.9%

 

Q14. From here onwards, about how much longer would you like the Abe administration to continue? Please select one answer from the list:

Continue for as long as possible 18.0% (36.1)
Two or three years 28.3% (34.8)
About a year 22.1% (11.2)
About six months 7.8% (2.6)
End as soon as possible 16.1% (5.1)
Other 0.2% (0.5%)
Does not know; No answer 7.6% (9.7)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in November 2006

 

Q15. The following questions concern the Japanese Constitution.
What aspects of the current Japanese Constitution interest you? All issues on the following list are related to the Constitution. Please choose as many answers as you like that attract special interest to you.

Issues concerning the Emperor and the Imperial household 20.4% (30.9)
Issues involving the renunciation of war and the Self-Defense Force 48.4% (49.3)
Equality and discrimination issues 15.9% (16.4)
Issues concerning freedom of speech, press, and images 11.7% (11.1)
Issues involving information disclosure 15.3% (16.4)
Protection of privacy issues 16.7% (25.3)
Issues involving the right to life, social welfare 22.3% (16.9)
Environmental issues 29.8% (24.0)
Issues surrounding the right to meetings, demonstration, and strike 1.8% (2.0)
Issues concerning the electoral system 11.8% (12.7)
Trial issues 14.9% (12.5)
Issues surrounding official visits to Yasukuni shrine 20.0% (27.8)
Issues concerning Constitutional reform 18.1% (16.2)
Issues surrounding the separation of powers (legislative, executive and judicial) 3.2% (4.1)
Local government autonomy issues 14.1% (12.0)
Issues surrounding the bicameral system of the National Diet 6.3% (8.4)
The process and circumstances surrounding enactment of the Constitution 5.6% (5.7)
Other, none really, Does not know; No answer 13.7% (9.1)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

Q16. Do you think that the current Constitution should be amended or not?

Should be amended 46.2% (55.5)
Should not be amended 39.1% (32.2)
Does not know; No answer 14.7% (12.3)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

SQ1. [Those who answered “should be amended” in Q16 only]
Why do you believe the Constitution should be amended? Please select from the list below all applicable options:

It is a constitution forced upon us byAmerica 30.2% (33.6)
In order to state our right to self-defense, and stipulate the existence of the Self-Defense Force 27.2% (32.5)
There is too much insistence on rights, while obligations are being neglected 21.1% (25.3)
Acting according to interpretation or application of the constitution leads to confusion 31.9% (32.9)
New issues have arisen in which the current constitution can not handle 47.6% (47.4)
Other 2.6% (1.5)
Does not know; No answer 1.5% (1.9)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

SQ2. [Those who answered “should be amended” in Q16 only]
By when would you like the constitutional reform to be materialized? Please select one answer from the list below:

Within 3 years 50.7%
Within 5 years 24.8%
Within 10 years 6.7%
Other 1.2%
No particular time span 12.9%
Does not know; No answer 3.6%

 

SQ3. [Those who answered “should not be amended” in Q16 only]
Why do you believe the Constitution should not be amended? Please select from the list below all applicable options:

It is already established among the people 44.1% (36.3)
It is a constitution of peace lauded throughout the world 46.9% (51.5)
Fundamental human rights and democracy are assured 22.8% (26.7)
There should be an allowance of flexibility in interpretation and application, in accordance to the changing times 19.7% (20.5)
If you amend it, we will be in danger of opening up the road to becoming a major military country 32.1% (34.2)
Other 0.7% (1.0)
Does not know; No answer 2.2% (0.7)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

Q17. To the present day Japan has acted in accordance with interpretation and use of the disputed Article 9 of the Constitution, by which war was abandoned and military power was discarded.  Henceforth, what do you feel should be done about Article 9?  Please select from the following list one option:

Act according to interpretation or application of the article, as we have up until now 35.8% (32.6)
Because there is a limit in taking action according to interpretation or application, the Article 9 should be amended 35.7% (39.3)
Strictly keep to Article 9 and do not act according to interpretation or application 20.0% (20.9)
Other 0.2% (0.2)
Does not know; No answer 8.3% (7.0)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

Q18. Within Article 9’s provisions, there are clauses 1 and 2.  For each one, please state whether or not you feel there is a need for revision.

S1. Concerning the first clause, which established the “renouncement of war,” do you feel there is a need to revise it?

Yes 14.0%
No 80.3%
Does not know; No answer 5.7%

 

S2. Concerning the second clause, which established the “absence of military power,” do you feel there is a need to revise it?

Yes 38.1%
No 54.1%
Does not know; No answer 7.8%

 

Q19. The “right to collective defense” is the privilege to counterattack an enemy that attacks a country neighboring Japan, when that attack could threaten the safety of Japan.  In the opinion of the government, Japan possesses that privilege as well, but upon interpreting the Constitution, it was made so that they cannot use it.  From the following list, please choose the option most resembling your opinion concerning the right to collective defense:

Revise the constitution, making the right to collective defense usable 20.8% (26.9)
Change our interpretation of the constitution, making the right to collective defense usable 20.6% (22.7)
Should not be able to use it, as it has been up until now 50.0% (43.5)
Other 0.1% (0.1)
Does not know; No answer 8.5% (6.7)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

Q20. The Constitution divides the parliament into a bicameral system consisting of the House of Representatives and House of Councilors.  There are various arguments concerning this bicameral system, but from the following list, please choose the option most resembling your opinion:

Make it into a unicameral system 21.8%
Maintain the bicameral system, and intensify the role and authority of the House of Representatives 7.9%
Maintain the bicameral system, and intensify the role and authority of the House of Councilors 18.7%
Leave it the way it is now 44.2%
Other 0.7%
Does not know; No answer 6.7%

 

Q21. In regards to the Japanese Constitution, are there any clauses you think should be revised or added?   Please select from the list below all applicable options:

Status of the emperor and what it should be 15.0% (24.2)
Maintaining of an army for self-defense 23.2% (27.4)
Positive international cooperation 23.3% (21.9)
The right to know information about the administrative body 17.8% (18.3)
Protection of individual privacy 21.4% (27.6)
Respect of family 13.3% (11.5)
The right to live in a favorable environment 25.3% (27.6)
Intensifying the authority of the Prime Minister during a state of emergency 12.5% (12.4)
Roles of the House of Representatives and House of Councilors 11.8% (13.5)
Roles of the state and regions 21.9% (25.2)
Establishment of the Constitutional courts 4.2% (4.5)
Other 0.1% (0.1)
None really 23.8% (16.4)
Does not know; No answer 4.1% (2.9)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2006

 

Q22. Sixty years will have passed since the enforcement of the Constitution this May.  On the whole, do you or do you not value the role the current Constitution has fulfilled in Japanese society?

Very much value 37.9% (16.7)
More or less value 46.8% (59.5)
Does not really value 7.8% (15.1)
Does not value at all 2.2% (2.4)
Does not know; No answer 5.4% (6.3)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 1997

 

Q23. The following four opinions relate to the current Constitution, please voice your agreement or disagreement to each point in turn.

S1. Do you agree or disagree with the following opinion: “Peace continues in Japan, and brought with it economic development.”

I agree 86.5%
I disagree 10.1%
Does not know; No answer 3.4%

 

S2. Do you agree or disagree with the following opinion: “Japan thinks only of its own peace, and cannot adequately contribute to international peace collaboration efforts.”

I agree 37.5%
I disagree 56.8%
Does not know; No answer 5.7%

 

S3. Do you agree or disagree with the following opinion: “The concept of respecting individual rights and freedoms is well-established.”

I agree 66.3%
I disagree 27.6%
Does not know; No answer 6.1%

 

S4. Do you agree or disagree with the following opinion: “Public benefits have been neglected as a result of individual rights and freedoms being respected.”

I agree 48.0%
I disagree 41.4%
Does not know; No answer 10.7%

 

Q24. When you decide which political candidates or parties to vote for in the upcoming summer elections for the House of Councilors, will stances on the Constitution issue affect your decision?

Yes, they will 40.7% (39.8)
No, they won’t 28.7% (28.4)
Cannot say 27.5% (29.2)
Does not know; No answer 3.2% (2.6)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in March 2004

 

Q25. Of the following list of classifications, which would apply to your current career.  Please select one:

Independent businessman (Agriculture, Commerce and industry service sector, Self-employed profession) 14.7% (11.8)
Government official, local government employee 3.8% (4.0)
Full-time employee, such as in a corporation or office 27.2% (28.0)
Temporary company employee, temporary staff member, temporary worker, “fleeter” (part-time worker) 4.9% (6.0)
Housewife (including part-timers) 29.4% (30.9)
Student 2.1% (2.5)
Unemployed (currently job-hunting) 1.3% (1.0)
Unemployed (retired from active service, retired) 16.3% (15.4)
Other — (—)
Does not know; No answer 0.3% (0.3)

Figures in parentheses are results from polls conducted in February 2007

 

Fundamental Characteristics of Survey Sample

Regional Distribution

Hokkaido, Tohoku 12.3%
Kanto 28.5%
Chubu 18.9%
Kinki 19.3%
Chugoku,Shikoku 9.6%
Kyushu 11.3%

 

City Scale

Large Metropolitan areas (Tokyo’s 23 wards and ordinance designated cities) 21.8%
Large mid-sized cities (cities with population over 300,000) 17.9%
Mid-sized cities (cities with population over 100,000) 25.2%
Small cities (cities with population under 100,000) 23.0%
Towns and villages 12.0%

The scale is based on the standards set up as of March 12, 2007

 

Gender Distribution

Male 48.7%
Female 51.3%

 

Age Distribution (in years)

20-24 5.0%
25-29 6.1%
30-34 7.3%
35-39 8.5%
40-44 6.7%
45-49 9.2%
50-54 8.6%
55-59 12.1%
60-69 20.7%
Over 70 years old 15.8%

 

Educational Background

Middle School 13.7%
High School 47.4%
College/Junior College 38.1%
No answer 0.8%

 

Occupational Background

Agriculture/Forestry/Fishing 3.3%
Business/Industry/Service 9.5%
Self-employed 1.8%
Management/Professional 5.2%
Office worker/Skill industry 18.0%
Labor/Service 17.9%
Housewife 23.4%
Domestic woman other than a housewife 4.7%
Student 2.1%
Other/unemployed/No answer 14.1%

 

Household Annual Income (in Japanese yen)

Below 2 million 10.6%
In between 2 and 4 million 23.8%
In between 4 and 6 million 20.6%
In between 6 and 8 million 15.5%
In between 8 and 10 million 7.2%
Over 10 million 5.7%
No answer 16.7%

Disclaimer

The Mansfield Foundation is responsible for the translation of this Asahi Shimbun poll, subject to the Mansfield Foundation terms of use (see below).

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