Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What the heck are they thinking? Shoot, let's ask 'em!

Yesterday the Asahi Shimbun published results of a telephone survey it conducted on May 20-21. The raw numbers, if not the analyses, reveal a something of a disconnect between the public and the lurkers and reprobates denizens of Nagatacho.

The front page morning headline reads:

ABE 41% FUKUDA 29%
Post-Koizumi: The gap has shrunk since last month

and is followed by a minute dissection of the voting patterns of the various sub-groups of voters in either their pro-Abe, contra-Abe, pro-Fukuda and contra-Fukuda flavorings. has the story as well:

Fukuda closing the gap on Abe for LDP leadership
Asahi Shimbun

May 24, 2006 - Shinzo Abe remains the voters' top choice for next prime minister, but Yasuo Fukuda is quickly closing in, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.

Abe, the hawkish chief Cabinet secretary, was supported by 41 percent of respondents in the weekend survey, compared with 29 percent for Fukuda, former chief Cabinet secretary.
Now all this is fine and good (for the record "Somebody Else" trounced Aso Taro and Tanigaki Sadakazu in the division of the remainders. Aso received 3% support and Tanigaki 1%. "Somebody Else" waltzed away with 16%) but the only noticeable difference between Abe and Fukuda is Abe's reticence to talk about the possibility he might visit Yasukuni and Fukuda's definite "No" on the subject.

The funny thing is the Yasukuni issue is tied for last place in the top five concerns of the voters...and wow, check out the issue with which it is tied!

"Upon what issue would you want the next prime minister make a special effort? (Choose only one)"

Measures for coping with a low birthrate/aging society 25%
Remediation of income differentials 21%
Measures for boosting the economy 21%
Fiscal reconstruction 14%
Improving diplomatic relations 14%

Now let me see here...fiscal reconstruction is a) cutting spending and b) increasing taxes.

Gosh, that sounds like a sure political winner...what, Mr. Okada? You have a comment?

Why am I listening to you anyway: you're not an LDP member. So whether or not you have a comment is irrelevant.

Sooo...the "improvement of diplomatic relations" --the main only difference between the two top candidates--is just as popular a topic as raising taxes and cutting spending!

Me thinks I am witnessing a double dose of self-laceration in the basement of the league tables.

Whatever mortification of the flesh this combined 28% wish to inflict upon the Japanese body politic--it is fascinating to see how marginal the real concerns of the voters are to the selection of Koizumi's successor.

So much for the effective impact of populism, eh Mr. Wehrfritz?

Now in contrast with the Nagatacho crowd's navel-gazing over the Abe/Fukuda duality, the survey revealed a fairly ticked off electorate.

84%: U.S. realignment plan not fully explained
Asahi Shimbun

May 24, 2006-About 84 percent of polled voters say the government has not sufficiently explained the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, a hugely expensive plan that the public will have to pay for, a survey showed.

Tokyo and Washington agreed on the realignment plan earlier this month, but the telephone survey conducted by The Asahi Shimbun showed that only 6 percent thought the government has fully explained details of the plan to the public.


As for the agreement between the two governments that Japan will pay 700 billion yen to relocate the Marines to Guam, 77 percent said they could not accept such a financial burden.

Only 17 percent said the bill for Japan was acceptable.

Among those who support the Cabinet, only 25 percent said they accepted Japan's financial burden, while 69 percent said they found it unacceptable.
Gosh, how do you like those support numbers, Mr. Lawless--Japan's $26 billion dollar man?

Not a pretty picture for "Minister of State for Defense" Fukushiro Nukaga (hmmm...when did the folks at the JDA get the go-ahead for that dodgy locution?). The general public seems to feel Nukaga got rolled in Washington.

Mayhap because he, in fact, did get rolled?

(They don't call him "Lawless" for nothing, you know.)

By far the most interesting results were the responses to the questions asked about the "patriotism" clause in the revision of the Basic Law on Education.

(Memo to me- next time I see a Sokka Gakkai member, bow deeply and express effusive thanks. The LDP holds 76 meetings--and comes up Imperial Rescript on Education II. Komeito takes a look at the text and tells them to go jump in a lake. LDP jumps in lake. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you.)

Since these results of these questions are not available in English, I think it worthwhile to try to provide a provisional translation of the whole set:

"As regards the Basic Law on Education, which sets down such things as the principles at which education should be aiming, the government has presented to the Diet a bill offering a revision to the text. The Democratic Party has also compiled a revision. To what extent are you taking an interest in the revision of the Basic Law on Education?"

A great deal 33%
Somewhat 44%
Almost none 18%
None 4%

"Now as regards the revision of the Basic Law on Education, the "patriotism" problem has become a focal point. How patriotic do you feel yourself to be?"

Very patriotic 28%
Somewhat patriotic 51%
Not very patriotic 18%
Not at all patriotic 5%

"Do you agree or disagree that "Love of one's country" or "Love of Japan" should be one of the goals of education set down the Basic Law on Education?

Agree 56%
Disagree 29%

"What should be done regarding the revision of the Basic Law on Education?"

It is best that it be decided upon in the current session of the Diet 12%
The debate should continue without a vote being taken in this session of the Diet 73%
There is no need for a revision 9%

Very, very interesting...too bad the next elections are so, so far away...

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