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74% do not feel economy expanding, 35% to vote for LDP in election: Mainichi poll

TOKYO -- A total of 74 percent of those surveyed by the Mainichi Shimbun over the weekend said they did not feel the economy is expanding as the government claims.

The figure is well above the 17 percent who said they feel the economy is growing. Based on the monthly economic report for January, the government said that Japan's economy is likely undergoing its longest economic expansion in the postwar period.

Even among supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), 63 percent responded that they did not feel the economy had improved, while 30 percent said they did. The figures were 82 percent and 12 percent, respectively, among those who did not support any political party.

The government believes that the economy has expanded for six years and two months since December 2012 up to January this year.

Meanwhile, of the pollees, 35 percent said they would vote for the LDP in the proportional representation section of the House of Councillors election if an election were held now. A total of 14 percent said they would cast their ballots for the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP).

The figures for the opposition Japanese Communist Party (JCP), the junior ruling coalition partner Komeito and the opposition Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) were 4 percent each. The opposition Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) would garner votes from 1 percent of the pollees. Twenty-nine percent did not answer which political party they would vote for. The next upper house election will be held this summer.

Among those without party affiliation, 20 percent said they would vote for the LDP, while 10 percent said they would cast their ballots for the CDP. The figures for the JCP and Nippon Ishin stood at 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively. As many as 44 percent gave no answer.

Support rates for the LDP and the CDP came to 31 percent and 9 percent, respectively, and the figures for Komeito, the JCP and Nippon Ishin were 3 percent each while that for the DPFP was 1 percent. A total of 42 percent said they did not back any particular political party. The figures largely correspond with the percentage of political parties that pollees would vote for in the proportional representation election.

Nearly half, 47 percent, said they did not want political forces in favor of constitutional revisions to secure at least two-thirds of the seats in the upper house in the summer 2019 election, above 36 percent who did.

Among those without party affiliation, 24 percent said they wanted pro-revision forces to secure two-thirds of seats in the poll, while 64 percent of LDP supporters answered that they did.

Under Article 96 of the Constitution, amendments to the supreme law can be initiated by at least two-thirds of members of both chambers before being put to a referendum.

When asked about their views on the Northern Territories, 46 percent of the respondents expressed support for the government's policy of demanding Shikotan and Habomai -- two of the four Russian-held islands claimed by Japan -- be returned while seeking to conduct joint economic activities with Russia on the two other islands of Etorofu and Kunashiri. The ratio of those who voiced opposition to the policy came to 36 percent, while 18 percent did not answer.

The now defunct Soviet Union, the predecessor state of Russia, occupied the four islands after World War II. The 1956 Japan-Soviet joint declaration states that Shikotan and Habomei should be handed over to Japan after signing a bilateral peace treaty. Tokyo and Russia have agreed to hold territorial and peace treaty talks based on the declaration.

On the lock-on of fire-control radar by a South Korean destroyer on a Japanese patrol plane, 64 percent said they supported Japan's response, such as Tokyo's discontinuation of its negotiations with Seoul, which denies the use of the radar, over the issue. The figure is far above the 21 percent who said they disapprove Japan's response to the incident.

The Mainichi Shimbun conducted the telephone survey on Feb. 2 and 3 by calling randomly selected households on fixed-lines and cellphones. Answers were gained from 495 voters from 800 households with people aged 18 or older contacted by the Mainichi via fixed-line phone, with a response rate of 62 percent. Of 655 people aged 18 or over surveyed by cellphone, 528 responded. The response rate was 81 percent.

(Japanese original by Yuri Hirabayashi, Poll Office)

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