Nearly two-thirds of respondents opposed a recently passed bill authorizing the opening of casino resorts, highlighting deep-rooted concern about gambling addiction and a possible increase in crime, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.
The telephone poll conducted over the weekend showed 64.8 percent of respondents opposed the legislation paving the way for the opening of casinos, while 27.6 percent expressed support. The Japanese parliament passed the bill Friday despite stiff resistance from opposition parties.
Even among respondents supportive of the Abe Cabinet, 47.6 percent opposed the casino law, while 84.9 percent of respondents who do not support the Cabinet opposed the legislation.
The Abe government says the legislation, which allows the establishment of casinos at up to three locations as part of "integrated resorts," comprising hotels, conference rooms and shopping facilities, will boost foreign visitor numbers and revitalize regional economies.
But critics have said discussions in the Diet were insufficient and whether Japan can implement effective countermeasures against problem gambling and a potential rise in crime were major issues.
In the survey, 62.2 percent were also dissatisfied with the Abe Cabinet's response to the torrential rain disaster in western Japan early this month that killed over 220, while 27.5 percent said it dealt with the situation appropriately.
Abe's government came under fire when Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura posted photos on his Twitter account of a drinking party attended by Abe and members of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party, including Cabinet ministers, on July 5 even as the downpour intensified.
As of 8 p.m. Saturday, around 4,400 people had not returned to their homes after floods and landslides destroyed or damaged more than 38,000 homes across Japan, while water outages continued to affect 17,000 households, according to the government.
The approval rating for Abe's Cabinet stood at 43.4 percent, down from 44.9 percent in June, the poll conducted Saturday and Sunday showed. The disapproval rating stood at 41.8 percent.
Among other legislation enacted through Friday, a bill aimed at reforming Japan's notorious culture of overwork, viewed by Abe as the most important agenda item during the Diet session, was opposed by 60.9 percent of respondents, with 27.8 percent expressing support.
Opposition parties have said the bill would encourage long working hours by exempting skilled professional workers with high wages from working-hour regulations.
On who should be elected in the LDP's presidential contest in September, Abe, the current party leader, and former Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba were almost tied, at 27.3 percent and 26.7 percent, respectively.
The survey question asked respondents who would make the best LDP leader from among Abe, Ishiba, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Seiko Noda and former Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida. Noda secured 6.8 percent and Kishida 4.0 percent, while 27.1 percent said none of the four.
Abe plans to announce his candidacy in August, aiming to secure a third term until September 2021 and become Japan's longest-serving prime minister, sources familiar with the matter said Saturday.
The latest nationwide survey, covering 739 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,149 mobile phone numbers, obtained responses from 510 and 513 people, respectively.