Sunday, December 15, 2013

Off the Cuff: Around the Sudden Drop in Support for the Abe Administration

My snap response, dated December 10. Shigeru Ishiba calling protesters of the Secrecy Act bill terrorists then dancing around that statement hasn’t helped Abe either.


This 10 pp fall is attributable broadly speaking to the Abe administration's inability to concentrate on economic policy. More specifically, it is the immediate fallout from the new state secrets act bill that passed the Diet on the last day of the extraordinary session. Although conservative actors in the mainstream national print media (Sankei and the vastly more influential Yomiuri) supported the idea in principle, their actual coverage was relatively critical given their worries about potential constraints on media activities and more generally about public access, worries that could have been better massaged by walking the media through the process and making a better and more proactive show of addressing their concerns. I believe that the public reacted to the resultant aura of suspicion and apprehension.

The [size of the] fall would have been greater but for the steadily growing tensions with China. The impact of the fall would have been greater but for the disarray among the opposition parties on this and other matters.

Going forward, there's a growing consensus…that the economy is in an upswing in the economic cycle. Other things constant, this is likely to lift the Abe administration again and keep it there until the near-term (up to a year, say?) impact of the April VAT hike becomes clear. This means that Abe has at least one more opportunity--the next regular Diet session that should begin in early January and run through at least June and probably into July--to push the last installment of core Abenomics legislation. It also means that the Greek chorus of media disappointment at the third Abenomics arrow, which increasingly looks largely like a set of industrial policy retreads instead of the kind of labor, agriculture and other thoroughgoing regulatory reforms that Japan needs and the mainstream media largely support, will be relatively muted.

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