The government bill that seeks to strengthen penalties for leaking state secrets is opposed by 50.6 percent of the Japanese public, according to a recent Kyodo News survey. The poll was conducted by phone on Saturday and Sunday, resulting in a positive backing of just 35.9 percent for the bill, with the rest with no opinion or undecided. The poll also revealed that the approval rating for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet had slipped to 60.7 percent from 63.3 percent earlier this month.
The bill was approved by the Abe’s cabinet on Friday and would now provide harsher penalties for civil servants, lawmakers and other people who leak government secrets. The Cabinet has made its desire known that it wants the Diet to pass the bill before the extraordinary session closes on Dec. 6, but the legislation has been hampered by public criticism. It seems to the Japanese citizens that this bill will only make it harder for the public to wring information out of a bureaucracy that already has chronic problems with disclosure. According to the poll, 82.7 percent said the bill should be deliberated carefully in the Diet and only 12.9 percent would like it passed before the extraordinary session closes.
Other issues tackled by the survey include the radioactive water leaks at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, where 83.8 percent said they doubt Abe’s repeated assertions that the situation there is “under control,” compared with 11.7 percent who trust them. On the negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, 69.9 percent said that tariff removal is inevitable for some of the five “sacred” farm products — rice, wheat, beef and pork, dairy and sugar. On the issue of whether Abe’s economic policies have improved the economy, 78.8 percent said they hadn’t felt any real effect and 18.0 percent said they had perceived improvements.
[via Kyodo News]