The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet was 36 percent, the lowest since he returned to power in December 2012, according to an opinion poll conducted by The Japan Agricultural News.
The disapproval rating was 61 percent, higher than the approval rate by more than 20 percentage points. A total of 75 percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat disapprove the Abe administration’s agricultural policies. Opponents to the security bills which the government is aiming to pass in the current Diet session exceeded 60 percent.
The poll was conducted on 1,150 monitors of the newspaper, mainly farmers, between the end of June and early July. 826 responded by July 10.
The approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet was the highest when it was established in December 2012 with 66 percent, and the disapproval rating at the time was 34 percent. Many people pinned hopes on the new administration which won back power from the Democratic Party of Japan, but the approval rating has continued to drop during the past two and a half years, as the administration decided to participate in negotiations under the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade talks and to carry out a drastic agricultural reform including an overhaul of agricultural co-operatives. The disapproval rating exceeded the approval rating for the first time in August 2014, and the latest figures represent nearly the exact opposite of the ratings marked when Abe regained power.
Compared with the previous survey conducted in November 2014 before the Lower House election, the approval rating plummeted by 8 percentage points from 45 percent, while the disapproval rating rose by 6 percentage points. During this time, the government submitted a bill to revise the Agricultural Co-operative Society Law to the current Diet session. The bill was passed in the Lower House and is deliberated at the Upper House. 52 percent of the respondents were opposed to the bill, and supporters of the bill was as low as 18 percent.
Regarding the government’s stance on the TPP negotiations, a total of 94 percent responded they either think the government should withdraw from the negotiations or not strike a deal if it can’t protect key agricultural items as adopted in the Diet resolutions. The result indicates farmers’ hope that the government maintain a strong attitude on the issue, as the TPP member nations aim to reach agreement before the end of this month.
As for the controversial security bills that would expand the scope of Self-Defense Force’s missions abroad, 62 percent were against the bills while 17 percent supported them. Respondents’ negative feedback to the Abe administration’s two major legislations apparently led to the low approval rating.
(July 14, 2015)