TOKYO - Most Japanese oppose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe serving an additional term as his party's president, allowing him to stay on as prime minister, the latest Nikkei/TV Tokyo survey finds.
Asked whether they supported Abe serving a fourth term as president of the Liberal Democratic Party, which would require a change of party term limits, and ostensibly staying on as prime minister, 35% were in favor and 54% were against in the poll taken from Friday to Sunday.
Abe is already the second-longest serving prime minister in postwar Japan. His current term as LDP chief ends in September 2021, and party rules state that the president can serve up to three consecutive three-year terms. Calls for a fourth term for Abe began to be heard from within the party in early February. But Abe said on Wednesday that the third term will be his last.
Among LDP supporters, 55% were for another term while 35% were opposed. Among supporters of opposition parties, 9% were in favor while 88% were against. Twenty-three percent of unaffiliated voters approved while 61% disapproved.
The poll found that the older the respondent, the more likely they were to oppose a fourth term. Among the 18-39 age group, 53% were in favor while 31% were against. Those in favor made up 34% of the 40-59 age group while 58% were opposed. Among those 60 years old and up, 27% supported the move while 64% were against it.
The approval rating for Abe's cabinet slipped slightly to 48%, down from 51% in February. Those disapproving of the cabinet were unchanged at 42%.
Regarding the current economic expansion, which the government says may be the longest postwar growth, 82% of respondents said they do not feel it, up 4 points from February. Those who said they feel it declined 4 points to 12%.
Public opinion was divided on the plan to hike the consumption tax to 10% from 8% in October, with 45% in favor and 47% against. The split was 43-50 back in December.
On how an increase in foreign workers will affect the economy, 44% predicted a positive effect while 30% see a negative impact. The split was 52-29 among men and 35-32 among women.
The survey found that 43% supported the government's plan to receive up to 345,000 foreigners over five years starting in April, while 44% were against it. Back in December, 40% were in favor while 48% were opposed.
Of those between 18 and 39 years old, 57% were in favor while 36% were against. In the 40-59 age group, 42% were for while 46% were against, while in the 60-and-older group, 39% supported the plan while 47% opposed it.
Sixty-two percent said that they have concerns about an increase in foreign workers while 31% said that they are not concerned. Among women, 69% expressed concern compared with 58% for men.
The poll was carried out by Nikkei Research via random-digit dialing, receiving 970 responses from those 18 and older, for a response rate of 45.9%.