Editorial Notes

Will rise in approval ratings turn tide for Abe? The Japan News

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest disapproval rating, at 48 per cent, still exceeds the support rate.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's latest disapproval rating, at 48 per cent, still exceeds the support rate. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

In its editorial on Aug 6, the paper urges the Abe administration to fulfil their duties both on the home front and foreign affairs to retain public trust.

TOKYO (THE JAPAN NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has finally stopped falling. It would be premature to think that the Cabinet has regained the public's trust. The prime minister needs to make steady efforts to implement policies and achieve tangible results.

A recent nationwide survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun showed that the approval rating stood at 42 per cent immediately after the launch of Abe's reshuffled Cabinet, the third to be formed under his third administration.

This marks an increase of six percentage points from July, when the approval rating hit its lowest level since the start of his second Cabinet, and the sharp decline in the rating, which took place after the figure had stood at 61 per cent in May, has bottomed out. The latest disapproval rating, at 48 per cent, still exceeds the support rate.

About half of the people surveyed expressed a favourable view of Abe's decision to have some Cabinet members stay on, including Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, who doubles as finance minister, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga. A majority of the respondents had a favourable opinion of Seiko Noda's appointment as internal affairs and communications minister, and of Taro Kono's as foreign minister.

These appointments prioritise ensuring stability of the Abe Cabinet by preserving the mainstay of the preceding Cabinet and filling key posts with people who have once held ministerial portfolios.

This also signifies an effort to rectify the practice of according his "close friends" preference in the formation of a cabinet and even to appoint figures who have distanced themselves from the prime minister. The results of the survey can be regarded as showing that Abe's aim of forming "a cabinet of figures with expertise" has been accepted to a certain degree.

Appearing on a television program, Abe said, "I want to gain genuine support by producing results from now on."

The rise in the approval rating is nothing but a feeling of expectation for the new Cabinet. Hope will be changed to disappointment if the Abe Cabinet fails to rack up proper results in both domestic politics and diplomatic relations, as stated by the prime minister. All members of the Abe administration must stay on their toes in fulfilling their duties and move forward with politics.

According to the results of the survey, an overwhelming 80 per cent of the respondents cited "the economy and employment" as priority tasks to be tackled.

The prime minister's calls for placing "top priority on the economy" must not be a mere slogan.

Members of the new Cabinet need to abandon the practice of following precedents in such matters as the budgetary requests to be filed for next fiscal year by their respective ministries and agencies at the end of the month.

This should be complemented by efforts to steadfastly keep to the "selection and concentration" approach, which will require making progress predominantly in the implementation of measures conducive to rejuvenating the economy and advancing the government's growth strategy.

Abe should take heed of the fact that 54 per cent of those polled said "the prime minister cannot be trusted" as a reason for their disapproval of his Cabinet, setting a new record since the launch of his second Cabinet.

A still considerable 79 per cent of the pollees answered the prime minister had not yet fully explained the issue over the Kake Educational Institution in the Diet.

The prime minister himself expressed words of repentance, saying: "I may have become arrogant. I think [MY ARROGANCE]showed itself in my stance when I replied (to questions raised at Diet sessions)."

It is also necessary for him, at times, to undauntedly refute misguided criticisms leveled by opposition parties.

However, the prime minister should not forget to remain humble, first of all, in listening to objections raised about him, and in promoting a constructive battle of words.

The planned establishment of a veterinary science department by the Kake school corporation, through designation under the national strategic special zone scheme, is in keeping with the course of action mapped out in the basic policies devised by the Abe administration to promote deregulation and regional rejuvenation.

To increase the public's understanding about the Kake issue, it is indispensable for the prime minister to offer even more thorough explanations, carefully and actively, about the procedures and background involved in the case.

The Japan News is a member of The Straits Times media partner Asia News Network, an alliance of 23 media entities.