A Mainichi Shimbun poll shows support for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is up from about a month ago, despite a recent scandal ending in the resignation of a Cabinet member. The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about this change in the numbers.
Question: What were the poll numbers?
Answer: In a national poll by the Mainichi Shimbun on Jan. 30 and 31, support for the Abe Cabinet was at 51 percent, an 8 point increase from the previous poll on Dec. 5 and 6. It marked the first time since a March 2014 poll that support was in the 50 percent range. This comes despite the Jan. 28 resignation of former Economic Revitalization Minister Akira Amari over allegedly accepting money from a construction company.
Q: Why are the numbers up?
A: There are various theories, such as that it was because Amari quit honorably, but I see the reason as being the returned support of female voters. Approval of the Abe Cabinet began falling in spring last year and was down to 32 percent by August. Public opinion was divided over new security legislation, with those against it also becoming opposed to the Abe Cabinet. The drop in support among female voters was pronounced. In August, while 40 percent of male voters still backed the Cabinet, support among female voters was down to 26 percent, a difference of 14 points.
By December, however, the difference was down to 10 points, with male voter approval at 49 percent and female voter support at 39 percent. In the most recent poll, the difference was only 6 points, with 54 percent of male voters and 48 percent of female voters supporting the Cabinet.
The reason that female voters have returned to support of the Cabinet is unclear. Female voters showed greater opposition to the security laws than male voters, and when asked in the most recent poll whether the security laws would influence their vote in the House of Councillors election this summer, 57 percent of male voters and 50 percent of female voters said it would. While still high, the interest of voters in the security laws appears to have fallen compared to last year, and it seems likely that this led to the return of support from female voters. (Answers by Akane Imamura, Poll Office)