After the Yomiuri Shimbun pollsters stopped asking a triple option question regarding Japan's participation in collective self defense (CSD), replacing the previous options of
- Yes, Japan should do so fully
- Yes, Japan should, but only to the minimum extent possible, and
- No, Japan should not
with a straightforward Yes-or-No, the Fuji Sankei Group (Fuji Terebi and the Sankei Shimbun) became the last media organization still giving those wishing to not appear virulently selfish a false option of an undefined, vanishing responsibility to come to the defense of others.
Over the weekend, the Fuji Sankei Group came in from the cold, sort of, having its pollsters ask the one CSD question in a binary way.
The Abe Cabinet has reinterpreted the Constitution, delivering a Cabinet Decision approving the exercise of the right of collective self defense in a limited way. What do you think of this?
Don't Know/Don't Care 7%
This looks a lot like the results found by all the other news organizations, with greater than 50% of the voters disapproving of the Abe Cabinet's actions as regards CSD.
However, the Fuji Sankei poll fails to disambiguate whether the voters are expressing displeasure with
a) the decision to approve CSD or
b) the Abe Cabinet's approval through the constitutionally suspect method of reinterpretation.
Other polling organizations have been separating the the two issues. They have generally found greater than 60% of those polled angry with the method while a smaller majority are upset with Japan's taking up the exercise of the CSD right.
While Fuji's fluffing (or fudging) of the question keeps Abe government opponents from claiming that "every poll shows the majority of the voters opposed to CSD," the general conclusion is clear: the Abe Cabinet or the CSD debate troika (in Mikuriya Takashi's conception) of Abe Shinzo, Komura Masahiko and Ishiba Shigeru have failed to make the case for the government's most radical effort to alter Japan's security architecture. Not event the Yomiuri's and the Sankei's sympathies with Abe's program could engineer a massaging of the polling results into even weak support for the government's actions.
So yes, Abe and Friends won the fight over Japan's exercise of the right of collective self defense -- but alienating a majority of voters in the process.
When, if ever, an opposition party works out a political program incepting the better parts of Abenomics, adding some truly sincere and mathed-up structural reform proposals, together with a greater respect for the intelligence of the average voter, that party could give the LDP some serious competition at the ballot box.