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55% negative over foreign worker bill; 40% disapprove, 37% support PM Abe: Mainichi poll

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers questions at a news conference at the prime minister's office in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on Dec. 10, 2018, after the extraordinary Diet session closed. (Mainichi/Masahiro Kawata)

TOKYO -- As many as 55 percent of respondents said in the latest Mainichi Shimbun poll that they didn't support the recent Diet decision of accepting more foreign workers starting April 2019 by changing the immigration law, while 30 percent said they were supportive of the move. Respondents with no answer stood at 15 percent.

When asked about the government's ongoing project to reclaim the waters off the Henoko district of the city of Nago in the southernmost prefecture of Okinawa to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in the same prefecture, 56 percent was against it, while 27 percent indicated support. Seventeen percent had no answer. The Dec. 15-16 polled covered 1,017 respondents aged 18 or older nationwide.

Meanwhile, the disapproval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moved up to 40 percent, while 37 percent supported the administration. It is the first time in two months that more people disapproved of the Abe Cabinet than approved it. Among supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the support rate reached 74 percent, while the figure was 21 percent among those without party affiliation. Of the independents, 46 percent disapproved Abe.

The latest disapproval rate was up 2 percentage points from the previous month, while the approval figure was down 4 percentage points. Among the rest, 21 percent -- a slight increase from 20 percent in November -- said they had no interest in the issue, while 1 percent, the same figure recorded a month earlier, didn't give an answer.

Nearly two thirds, or 64 percent, also stated that they were against the government's plan of paying rebates to consumers who made cashless payments in a bid to shore up the economy when the consumption tax is raised from 8 percent to 10 percent in October 2019. Only 25 percent was for the current plan, which calls for a rebate of 5 percent for purchases at small- and medium-sized retailors and 2 percent for those at major chains of restaurants and convenient stores.

Similarly, 55 percent of those who answered the poll said they were negative about the government's idea of issuing special gift certificates with an initial face value of 20,000 yen for low income and child-rearing households that would actually allow the purchase of 25,000 yen's worth of goods or services. As many as 32 percent were positive about the plan, which is also under consideration as an economic stimulus measure following the tax hike.

As for the territorial and peace treaty talks between Japan and Russia, opinions were divided. The poll asked about an idea for Japan to demand the return of just two of the disputed islands -- the smaller ones of Habomai and Shikotan out of the four islands of the Northern Territories claimed by Tokyo but controlled by Moscow -- and to carry out joint economic activities between the two countries on the remaining two islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri. Of the respondents, 42 percent supported the idea, while 39 percent was against.

Regarding constitutional revisions that the Abe administration wants to introduce, 61 percent said there is no need to rush on the matter, down 3 percentage points from the November poll. Twenty-two percent answered the process had to speed up, a gain of two percentage points from last month.

About the favoritism allegations centering around two educational institutions linked to the prime minister and his wife -- a connection the premier vehemently denies -- as much as 72 percent of respondents said they were not convinced by explanations from Prime Minister Abe or the government, the same figure from the last survey. Twelve percent said they were convinced, up 1 percentage point.

The support rates for major political parties stood as the following with figures from the November survey in parenthesis: 29 percent for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (29), 10 percent for the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (12), 1 percent for the Democratic Party for the People (1); 4 percent for the junior coalition partner Komeito (5); 3 percent for the Japanese Communist Party (3); 2 percent for Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party). People without any party affiliation accounted for 43 percent, up 2 percentage points.

The poll was conducted by selecting interviewees through the random digit sampling method, covering both landlines and cellphones for people aged at least 18.


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