Economy Biggest Issue for Japanese Voters Two Weeks Before Poll

The economy will matter more to Japanese voters than security and nuclear policies when they cast their votes in the Dec. 14 election, media polls showed.

In an Asahi newspaper poll published today, 47 percent of respondents said the economy would be an important factor in their decision. About 37 percent said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies had been a success over the past two years, while 30 percent said they hadn’t.

In the election, Abe is seeking a new mandate for his economic program, which has helped lifted the benchmark Topix stock index about 70 percent since he won office nearly two years ago. Opposition parties are seeking to cut his majority by drawing attention to the downside of policies that have led real wages to fall for 15 straight months, as well as his unpopular stance on security and nuclear energy.

While 56 percent said they didn’t approve of the restart of the country’s nuclear power plants, only 15 percent said the matter was important in the election. Similarly, half the respondents said they opposed Abe’s reinterpretation of the pacifist constitution to strengthen the military, compared with 12 percent saying it would influence their choice.

The Asahi surveyed 1,180 people by phone on Nov. 29 and 30. Approval for Abe’s cabinet was at 40 percent, while 27 percent said they supported his ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

A separate poll by the Mainichi newspaper today found social security issues such as pensions and health care were the most important factors in the election, followed by the economy. Only 6 percent opted for energy policy and 5 percent for foreign and security policy. Respondents in the Mainichi poll were only allowed one option.

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