More than half of Japanese voters support new Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, media surveys published yesterday showed, with the country’s stagnant economy topping the list of problems voters want the hawkish new leader to tackle.
Abe took office on Wednesday, after his conservative Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) landslide election victory this month, promising to revive the world’s third-biggest economy with bold monetary easing and big spending by the debt-laden government.
Support for Abe’s Cabinet, which is packed with allies who share his conservative views, but leavened with some party rivals, ranged from 52 percent in a survey by the Mainichi newspaper to 65 percent in a poll by the Yomiuri newspaper.
Fixing the economy, now in its fourth recession since 2000, was voters’ top priority.
Forty-eight percent of voters in a survey by the Asahi newspaper put the economy as their first priority, compared with 11 percent who stressed security issues, which are also a key element of Abe’s platform.
Abe, 58, wants to revise Japan’s post-World War II constitutional limits on the military so Tokyo can play a bigger global security role, but only 32 percent of voters in the Asahi poll backed the move, compared with 53 percent who opposed.
Voters were split over the LDP’s post-Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster energy policy, with 46 percent in favor of its plan to restart off-line nuclear reactors that are confirmed safe and 45 percent opposed, the Yomiuri said.
“We are getting firm support for our practical response,” the Yomiuri quoted Shigeru Ishiba, the LDP’s No. 2 leader, as saying. “We must achieve results so that we can maintain this support.”
Meanwhile, China’s ruling Communist Party, in its official newspaper, yesterday called on Japan to not “play tricks” with history after comments by a Japanese official cast doubt on whether Abe would uphold a 1993 apology to women forced into sex slavery in World War II.
Any “muddling or distortion” of Japan’s wartime atrocities will hurt the victims of its past militarism and give Asian nations reason to be highly wary of the new government, a commentary published in yesterday’s People’s Daily newspaper said. The article’s author was identified as Zhong Sheng (中聲), whose name sounds in Chinese like “voice of China,” and for whom no personal details were given.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said yesterday the apology needed to be reviewed by experts and historians before Abe’s administration supported it. The comments added to tensions arising from a dispute over control of islands in the East China Sea that have strained relations in Asia.
The People’s Daily, which noted Suga’s comments, said Japan would “never receive the forgiveness and respect of Asian countries” if it held the “wrong attitude toward history.”
Abe said in March 2007 during his earlier stint in office that there was “no evidence” that Japan’s military forced women into prostitution during its occupation of Asia in World War II. That statement clashed with a 1993 study by Japan’s Cabinet Office that said women “were recruited against their own will.”