Many Japanese Support Koizumi's Re-Election, Nihon Keizai Says
Reviewed by Hitoshi URABE
"Many Japanese Support Koizumi's Re-Election, Nihon Keizai Says"
The article is a summarized report on the results of the survey executed by Nihon Keizai Shimbun over the weekend.
It used to be that survey results appearing on newspapers were considered dubious, as it would often reflect the thoughts and opinion of that medium and that in an implicit manner. Respectable newspapers have over the years improved their methods, such as utilizing random numbers to figure the telephone numbers to dial, and to disclose the questionnaires they had asked, as people became aware that poll results could be tacitly manipulated depending on the form the questions are constructed.
Differences among poll results are accordingly becoming smaller among major media. But varieties remain, due to a number of reasons such as the respondents' reaction to who is asking the question, the length and format of the questionnaire, and, of course, the views of editors who look at the numbers and which to feature in what way. Nihon Keizai Shimbun is considered to be relatively neutral in political terms as it purports itself to be specialized in economy, but it might still worth it to look at the key numbers directly, and try to formulate one's own hypothesis.
Approval rate for Prime Minister Koizumi has been literally a roller coaster ride since he took office a little more than two years ago. There were about 80% of people supporting him at the outset, and remained relatively stable until early last year the rate dropped to the 30's after he sacked the popular Foreign Minister Tanaka. The number jumped back close to 70% after his visit to Pyongyang to meet the North Korean Leader Kim Jon-Il last September. It drifted down again as people became concerned about the economy to low 40's earlier this year, and has regained the level back here, at about half the people supporting Mr Koizumi.
Among the respondents to the survey this time conducted by Nikkei, those who support Mr Koizumi was 49%, up 1% from last month, those who do not 38%, up 3% from last month, and those who do not want to say or do not know was 13%, down 4%. Asked how they evaluate Mr Koizumi in his ability to guide and manage economy, those satisfied was 2%, somewhat satisfied 20%, and 9% said don't know, while 43% said somewhat dissatisfied and 26% said they were very dissatisfied.
As the vote for presidency of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is scheduled in September, one of the interesting element of the survey was the question on who the people think would be elected as the leader of the party this fall. Among the respondents, 42% named Mr Koizumi. Technically, there was no second place, as 25% of the people replied as they don't know. The runner-up was Shintaro Abe collecting 14%, an interesting result considering he has been one of the most prominent hard-liners toward North Korea, especially since he has been assigned as the officer in charge to handle abductions of Japanese citizens by the rogue regime. Following the two gentlemen in the survey were Shizuka Kamei and Yohei Kono at mere 4%, and Taro Aso at only 3%.
It has been hinted by many critics that it is not that people want Mr Koizumi but they show support for the current Prime Minister rather reluctantly because there is no alternative. There is certainly some universal truth inherent in this proposition, but the huge gap in the numbers among the rumored candidates could indicate that people are not that negative toward Mr Koizumi. It could be possible that people are naming Mr Koizumi not solely out of passive and unwilling mode but through more affirmative stance.