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Nos.13-15 ,Others  Mar 01, 2013

Opinion Poll: Is Japan Tilting to Right?

Intellectuals Concerned About “Tilt to the Right”

The survey, to which 282 people including intellectuals and experts responded, asked people in Japan for their opinions on whether Japan is “tilting to the right” as some foreign media have suggested.

The ratio of respondents who “feel Japan is ’tilting to the right”‘ as foreign media claim was 23.4%. However, when combining an answer that they do not think so as of now but it is possible later, which was given by 13.1%, nearly 40% of the respondents are concerned about Japan’s drift to the right.

Also, 28.4% said Japan is “not tilting to the right but reactions of overseas media over Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s comments and actions are understandable,” suggesting that they think it is inevitable that foreign media look the current situation like they do, while negating the notion of Japan’s tilt to the right.

On the other hand, 13.8% answered that the foreign media’s opinion was an “obvious misunderstanding,” clearly denying the notion of Japan’s tilt to the right.

graph : rightward questionnaire1

Uneasiness and Expectations

The survey then asked the respondents’ opinions about Prime Minister Abe’s potential policies and measures after the upcoming House of Councillors election, as his remarks have been taken by some quarters to indicate that he might accelerate moves regarding certain issues, including possible amendment of the Constitution and creation of a national defense force (in departure from the current Self-Defense Forces).

The most common answer, provided by 35.8% of the respondents, was that they “have a strong feeling of anxiety over the post-House of Councillors election policies” by Prime Minister Abe. Meanwhile, 28.0% said “although certain anxiety exists, Prime Minister Abe will not make his way forcibly considering the realistic nature of politics,” indicating divided points of view among the respondents. On the other hand, 19.9% said they ”agree with Prime Minister Abe’s opinions and he should propel his policies without hesitations” after the election.

graph : rightward questionnaire2

Intellectuals strongly concerned about possible conflict outbreak

The survey also asked their opinions on whether a conflict would occur between Japan and China.

The survey showed that 27.0% of the respondents are strongly concerned that a clash “will break out in the near future if the current situation remains intact.” Considering an answer by 29.5%, in which they said that they “think it will happen in the future,” close to 60% of the respondents are aware of the risk of a possible conflict outbreak. Meanwhile, 29.2% expressed their optimistic views, saying that they “think it will not happen.”

graph : rightward questionnaire3

Intellectuals Desire Dialogue

Another question was presented to the respondents who answered that a clash “will break out in the near future if the current situation remains intact”‘ and “think it will happen in the future,” asking them what are necessary to avoid the possible conflict.

The most popular answer, given by 29.3% of the respondents, was “consultations by the governments of Japan and China,” followed by “building working-level hotlines,” which was given by 23.4%. The poll showed that over 50% of the respondents seek reopening of the official communication channel between the two countries that has been interrupted along with the deteriorating situation over the Senkaku Islands.

graph : rightward questionnaire4

Are Internet right-wingers a threat?

Lastly, the survey asked about a nationalistic trend in opinions seen on the Internet in Japan.

Combining answers of “very concerned,” 27.8%, and “rather concerned,” 28.5%, over 50% of the respondents share the sense of danger over the nationalistic trend in opinions observed on the Internet.

On the other hand, 33.8% said they are “not too concerned” about the trend and 8.5% said they are “not concerned at all.” The poll indicated polarized views on the issue as over 40% regard the issue not a problem.

graph : rightward questionnaire5

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The poll by The Genron NPO was conducted from March 3 to 6, 2013, among some 800 people, including corporate executives, people associated with the media, government officials, scholars, researchers, and people associated with nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, who have previously participated in The Genron NPO’s activities.

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