Poll finds widespread distrust of politicians, bureaucrats in Japan

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) – Many voters expressed distrust in politicians and bureaucrats in a public opinion poll conducted jointly by The Yomiuri Shimbun and the Waseda Institute of Political Economy from January to February, with 73 per cent not trusting politicians and 70 per cent not trusting bureaucrats.

According to the mail-in survey on political awareness, 60 per cent of respondents said they do not trust political parties and 56 per cent said they do not trust the political system.

The latest opinion poll was conducted before the revelation of the Finance Ministry’s alterations of approved documents related to a controversial sale of a state-owned land plot to private school operator Moritomo Gakuen. The results highlight the harsh gaze that many Japanese people direct at politicians and bureaucrats.

Looking at respondents by the political party they support, 90 per cent of respondents with no party affiliation distrusted politicians. Political parties were not trusted by 87 per cent of unaffiliated respondents, and bureaucrats were not trusted by 83 percent of such respondents.

Among opposition party supporters, 78 per cent did not trust bureaucrats, 76 per cent did not trust politicians and 62 per cent did not trust political parties. Even among respondents who support the ruling parties, more than half of them, or 57 per cent, expressed distrust in bureaucrats, while 56 per cent expressed distrust in politicians, surpassing the 43 per cent who trust them.

Asked about Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s abilities in eight fields, 51 per cent, the largest proportion, appreciated his diplomatic ability.

He ranked lowest, at 23 per cent, for the percentage of people who appreciate his ability to explain things and convince others.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent said a strong opposition party that can compete with the Liberal Democratic Party is needed.

Asked about mergers and cooperation among opposition parties, 65 per cent said political parties with the same policies should cooperate with each other, exceeding the 32 per cent who said opposition parties should cooperate to expand their power even though there are some differences in their policies.

Respondents were asked to choose the levels of their own political awareness and that of other Japanese voters’ from five levels of “high,” “moderately high,” “moderate,” “moderately low” and “low.”

As for their own political awareness, the percentage of respondents who chose “moderate” was the largest at 42 per cent. However, when it comes to the level of political awareness of other Japanese voters, 43 per cent, the largest proportion, chose “moderately low.”

By age group, the younger the respondents were, the higher the percentage who deemed their own political awareness to be “low” or “moderately low,” with 59 per cent of respondents aged from 18 to 29 and 51 per cent of those in their 30s choosing these levels.

The percentages of respondents in their 40s and 50s who said their own political awareness is “moderately low” or “low” were in the 30 per cent range, while around 20 per cent of those in their 60s and aged 70 or older chose these levels.

When it comes to differences between evaluating their political awareness and that of other Japanese voters, 49 per cent of respondents thought their own political awareness is higher than other voters’, while 33 per cent think their level of political awareness is the same as others’. Seventeen per cent said their political awareness is lower than others’.

Looking at respondents by the political party they support, 63 per cent of those supporting the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan said their political awareness is higher than other voters, followed by 53 per cent of those supporting the LDP.

Meanwhile, 38 per cent of respondents with no political party affiliation think their own political awareness is higher than others.

By age group, many middle-aged respondents said their political awareness is higher, including 59 per cent of respondents in their 60s, the largest among the age groups. They were followed by 52 percent in their 50s. Among other age groups, 49 per cent of those aged 70 or older felt they had higher political awareness, followed by 48 per cent in their 40s, 42 per cent in their 30s and 36 per cent aged 18 to 29.

The survey was conducted from January 23 to February 28 on 3,000 eligible voters across the nation, with 1,822, or 61 per cent, giving valid answers.