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Olympics

7 in 10 Respondents Doubt Olympics Can Be Held This Summer — Sankei-FNN Poll

In another issue polled, the government gets firm public support for stronger action on China’s human rights violations.

The Sankei Shimbun

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Do the Japanese expect the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics — already rescheduled from last year — to be finally held this summer?  

A big majority of the respondents in a joint opinion poll conducted by The Sankei Shimbun and Fuji News Network (FNN) on April 17 and 18 are not optimistic about the prospects.

The 1180 respondents in the nationwide survey of adults over the age of 18 were asked what they thought of the prospects of Japan hosting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer. They were given three choices:

  • Expect the games will be cancelled
  • Expect the games to go forward with appropriate COVID-19 measures
  • Another postponement is likely 

Majority, or 56.8%, of those polled indicated they think cancellation is unavoidable. This is the second consecutive increase since the February poll showed 49.1% thought the Olympics would not be held as planned. 

Add to that the 17.6% who think another postponement is likely — a decrease from February’s 20.9% — and the percentage of respondents who are pessimistic about the Games pushing through forms a big majority at 74.4%

Meanwhile, only about 20% believe that the Tokyo Olympics are likely to go ahead as planned. This number represents a slight decrease for the second consecutive time since February, when 28% expected the Games to go forward. 

The poll results indicate heightened concerns about the latest wave of COVID-19 cases. 

Responses by region show that only 20.9% in the host city Tokyo are optimistic that the Olympics could go ahead as planned. An ominous 61.8% in Tokyo, 62.8% in Shikoku, and 62.2% in the Hokuriku and Shinetsu regions (in the northern part of Japan’s main island of Honshu) don’t see how cancellation can be avoided.

International Human Rights

Turning to another issue, most of the respondents — 82.7% — believe Japan should be involved in international human rights issues, such as human rights violations in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and in Hong Kong through parliamentary resolutions and sanctions.

Specifically, 28.4% said they strongly believe that Japan should become involved, even at the cost of deteriorating Japan-China relations, while 54.3% believe that Japan should become involved, without worsening relations with China.

Public opinion could prove to be a tailwind for members of the opposition and ruling parties aiming to adopt related resolutions during the current session of the National Diet.

A breakdown by political affiliation of those favoring strong involvement shows that 28.2% support the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) while 31.5% support the Constitutional Democratic Party, and 50.2% support the Japanese Communist Party, showing a higher inclination to strengthen Japan’s voice on human rights among the opposition parties. The Komeito, the junior party in the ruling coalition, had the lowest percentage at 18.0%.

By gender and age group, 37.8% of all male respondents favor strong involvement, rising to 40% in those age groups over 40. Only 19.4% of women concurred.

Shiori Yamao, a House of Representatives member from the Democratic Party for the People and co-chairman of a bipartisan parliamentary group for human rights diplomacy, responded to the results showing that over 80% favor Japan’s involvement in China’s human rights issues. 

“The parliament would like to prepare resolutions [condemning human rights abuses in China] and sanctions with full acknowledgment of the public’s deepening understanding,” he said, speaking to The Sankei Shimbun.

Norikazu Suzuki, who leads a project team on human rights within the LDP, responded by emphasizing that diplomacy with China must be based on trends in public opinion. “We hope for Japan’s increasing involvement in the improvement of human rights, while considering Japan’s quality of not taking an aggressive hardline,” he said.

(Read the Sankei Shimbun stories on which this report is based here and here in Japanese.)

Author: The Sankei Shimbun