Poll: 83% say ‘smile diplomacy’ falls flat

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - Eighty-three percent of respondents believe Pyongyang’s high-level delegation to South Korea and the formation of a united Korean women’s ice hockey team will not help solve North Korea’s nuclear and missile issues, according to a recent nationwide survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun.

The survey was conducted on Saturday and Sunday using a random digit dialing method. 

North Korea has embraced “smile diplomacy” in dispatching Kim Yo Jong, younger sister of Workers’ Party of Korea chairman Kim Jong Un, as a special envoy to South Korea. The younger Kim is also first vice director of the Central Committee of the party. 

At a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae In, she invited Moon to visit North Korea at an early date. Despite these developments, a majority of Japanese maintain a pessimistic outlook.

The approval rating for the Abe Cabinet was 54 percent, unchanged from the previous survey from Jan. 12 to 14. The disapproval rating was 36 percent, up one point from the previous survey. Asked on their views of Paragraph 2, Article 9 of the Constitution, which stipulates the nation will never maintain war potential and is a topic of debate within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, 36 percent of respondents said the paragraph should be kept and amended to include a legal basis for the existence of the Self-Defense Forces. The figure rose four points from the previous survey.

Another 35 percent said the paragraph should be eliminated and the objectives and characteristics of the SDF clarified, up one point from the previous survey. Twenty percent said there was no need to stipulate the existence of the SDF, down two points from the previous survey.

Regarding when the LDP should present its constitutional amendment proposal to the Diet, 19 percent said during the current ordinary Diet session, and 14 percent favored an extraordinary Diet session in the latter half of the year. Combined, a total of 33 percent supported the LDP’s plan to submit a proposal within the year.

Among those favoring a later submission, 14 percent said it should be submitted next year, while 10 percent said 2020 or later. Another 27 percent replied such a proposal is not necessary.

Respondents were divided on the Abe Cabinet’s policy to relocate the U.S. Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station to the Henoko district in Nago, both of which are in Okinawa Prefecture. Support for the policy came in at 44 percent, while 43 percent are opposed.

When asked whether National Tax Agency Commissioner Nobuhisa Sagawa should be summoned to testify at the Diet about the Moritomo Gakuen, 69 percent said he should, while 25 percent said such testimony was not necessary.

As then director general of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Bureau, Sagawa said internal documents over the sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen had been discarded.

Concerning issues that the Abe Cabinet should prioritize, with multiple answers permitted, 85 percent replied “the economy and employment,” down three points from the previous survey. The second most-cited issue was “matters involving the Moritomo Gakuen and Kake Educational Institution” at 40 percent, up one point, followed by “constitutional revision” at 32 percent, up five points.

When asked which party they supported, 42 percent of respondents chose the LDP, up three points, followed by 9 percent who selected the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, up one point. Thirty-six percent do not support any party, down 4 points.

The survey targeted eligible voters 18 or older and collected 1,085 valid responses. A total of 927 households with eligible voters were contacted by landline, with 527 people giving valid answers. A total of 1,188 people were contacted by mobile phone, with 558 giving valid answers.


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