January 22, 2018

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How Bribery Scandal Affected in Public Opinion

According to the survey conducted by Kyodo Wired News on January 30-31, when asked about the resignation of Amari, 67.3% of people answered that it was right that he resigned, while only 28.5% said that he should not have had to resign. The Abe administration’s approval was 53.7%, an increase of 4.3 percentage points, as compared to the survey made in December last year. Moreover, 50.1% of people did not think that Prime Minister Abe should be blamed for appointing Amari as a minister of Economic Revitalization, while 46.3% of people said Abe should be blamed.

A survey conducted by Yomiuri Shimnun on January 30-31 showed that 70% of respondents thought it was right that Amari resigned as a minister, and 23% said he shouldn’t have had to resign. The Abe Cabinet’s approval was was 56% which is a two point increase from the previous survey collected on January 8-10.

Tokyo Shimbun shed light on the counterintuitive finding that a large majority of people supported the resignation of Amari, while a majority also did not think that Prime Minister Abe is responsible for appointing Amari as minister and the government’s approval increased. Professor Kazuhisa Yamashita, who specializes in political psychology at Meiji Gakuin University, argues that one of the explanations could be that Amari resigned quickly. At first, many speculated that Abe would try to protect Amari and that the resignation would not happen until the TPP is signed on February 4. However, Amari announced his resignation on January 28. This invited sympathy since it was perceived a kind of punishment that Amari would not be able to participate in the culminating events of all the work he had done. Amari has been serving as the TPP chief negotiator since the negotiation began, but he will not participate the final signing ceremony in New Zealand on February 4.

Another explanation offered by Professor Yamashita is that the public mistrusts the opposition parties. At the moment, they are trying to form an alliance for the Upper House election campaign this summer. Although they have a common goal to defeat the Liberal Democratic Party, it is still not certain which parties will form the alliance. Professor Yamashita assumes that many people who favored the Abe administration in the surveys do not actually support the administration too deeply, but instead just don’t trust the opposition.

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