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43% find ex-Japan PM's aide pushing to alter broadcast law interpretation a problem: poll

The approval ratings for the Suga Cabinet, left, and Kishida Cabinet, right, with the blue lines showing approval and orange lines disapproval. The bottom scale shows month/year. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- In the wake of the recent revelations that an aide to then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe demanded the communications ministry change the interpretation of "political fairness" in Japan's Broadcast Act, 43% of people responding to a weekend opinion poll found the move "problematic," well over the 12% who saw it as not a problem.

    The Mainichi Shimbun poll, conducted on March 18 and 19, asked people across the country about the recently released public documents of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that showed Yosuke Isozaki, a then special adviser to Abe, called on the ministry to alter the legal provision's interpretation. Some 24% of respondents said the authenticity of the released papers was "questionable."

    Among respondents supporting the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a little under 20% said the PM aide's move was problematic, while nearly 30% said they found it not an issue, while a little under 30% questioned the authenticity of the documents.

    The ministry papers also refer to a briefing provided by a senior ministry official to then communications minister Sanae Takaichi over political fairness of broadcasts in February 2015. Takaichi, currently minister of state for economic security, denies that she received such staff briefings.

    In the latest poll, the approval ratings for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet climbed to 33%, up 7 percentage points from the previous survey conducted on Feb. 18 and 19. It is the first time in four months that the Cabinet support rate has surpassed 30%. Meanwhile, the Cabinet disapproval rate dropped by 5 points to 59%.

    In regard to Japan-South Korea relations, 54% of respondents appreciated the solution to the wartime labor issue recently unveiled by the South Korean government, well over the 26% who disapproved it. Under the solution, a Seoul-affiliated foundation would shoulder compensation for former forced laborers on behalf of Japanese firms ordered to pay reparations to them.

    Prime Minister Kishida met South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in Tokyo on March 16. In relation to the summit talks, 64% of respondents said they expected the bilateral relations will improve, while 28% said they didn't.

    As for former House of Councillors member GaaSyy, who was recently expelled from the chamber after not attending Diet sessions once since being elected in the July 2022 election, 89% of respondents said his expulsion was appropriate, while just 7% said the punishment was unnecessary. During a March 15 plenary session, the upper house voted by majority to expel GaaSyy, whose real name is Yoshikazu Higashitani from the Seijika Joshi 48 Party, formerly the NHK Party.

    In the phone-based Mainichi survey, valid responses were received via text from 500 mobile phones and through automated calls to 534 landlines.

    (Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)

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