By MALCOM FOSTER, Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — This year’s tsunami and nuclear disasters have severely shaken the Japanese public’s confidence in their government, and many are pessimistic about the country’s future, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found.

The results released Thursday also show that Japanese generally distrust their leaders and that nearly 60 percent believe the country is heading in the wrong direction — a sobering welcome for Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, elected this week.

Five months after the triple catastrophes — the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident — nearly three-quarters of the people lack confidence in the government’s ability to handle another major disaster. Eighty percent felt deeply that leaders were not telling them the truth about the crises, and a slight majority want to reduce the number of nuclear reactors in the nation.

Overall, Japanese are gloomy about the state of their country, currently and in the future.

Nearly two-thirds believe Japan is a weaker international power than it was 10 years ago, and a startling 84 percent of respondents believe the economy, overtaken by China’s to slide to third globally, is in poor shape. Some 44 percent believe children born today will be worse off when they grow up than people are now.

That pessimism reflects the complex mix of problems and attitudes confronting Noda as he replaces Naoto Kan, whose 15-month tenure ended amid widespread criticism of his administration’s handling of the disasters.

Some 100,000 residents from around the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant remain dislocated with no clear idea when they will be able to return to their homes. Residents in the scores of towns and villages along the tsunami-wracked northeastern coast are still cleaning up and fault the central government for being preoccupied with the nuclear crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the plant, received a harsh assessment, with 8 in 10 people disapproving of its response to the disaster, while Kan and the nuclear safety agency got thumbs down from three-quarters of respondents.

However, the Japanese military, which mobilized quickly in relief work after the tsunami, got positive reviews from 9 out of 10 people, the AP-GfK poll found.

Since the March 11 disasters, some 82 percent doubted the government’s ability to help them in the event of such an emergency — cited as a deep feeling by 82 percent. Three quarters reported feeling generally less safe than before March 11, and two-thirds were angry that relief was slow in reaching victims.

Americans’ emotions following Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans were less intense and focused more on anger (67 percent reporting this as a deep feeling) than fears for their personal safety, cited by 30 percent, or doubts about the government’s ability to help them in a disaster (44 percent).

The widespread disappointment reflected in the poll is “sad, but it shows that people are looking at things honestly” and that they believe the response to the disasters “has been unsatisfactory,” said Tetsuro Kato, a political science professor at Waseda University.

“The disasters could have been used to chart a new direction” for Japan and its leaders, “but that didn’t happen,” Kato said. “It was a missed opportunity.”

“Some probably want to scream,” Kato said.

The Fukushima accident has triggered debate in Japan about the future role of nuclear power in this earthquake-prone nation, which got 30 percent of its electricity from atomic power plants before the accident. The government has since scrapped its plan to boost that level to 50 percent by 2030.

The poll found that few in Japan have confidence in the nation’s nuclear power plants — only 5 percent were either extremely or very confident, while 60 percent had little or no confidence.

A slight majority, 55 percent, want to reduce the number of atomic power plants, while 35 percent would like to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.

Overall, 59 percent felt the country was headed in the wrong direction, while 63 percent believe Japan’s international power is weaker than 10 years ago.

“From abroad, Japan appears to be turning inward,” said Kato, who was in the U.S. last week. He also bemoaned the lack of robust debate about the nuclear crisis in the brief campaign among candidates who fought to replace Kan — a race Noda won.

Still, on a personal level a majority of Japanese, or 56 percent, say they are happy with the way things are going in their lives. Just 11 percent consider themselves mostly unhappy, while a third are neither happy or unhappy.

More women say they are happy than men (65 percent versus 47 percent). Married people also say they are happier than singles (60 percent versus 47 percent).

The AP-GfK telephone poll conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Corporate Communications surveyed 1,000 adults across Japan between July 29 and Aug. 10, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Recovery from the quake and tsunami is clearly viewed as the top priority for the nation, cited as the most important goal Japan over the next 10 years by nearly all surveyed. Nine in 10 said recovering from events of March 11 was the most serious problem facing the country.

The aging population was viewed as the second most serious problem, cited by 78 percent as either very or extremely serious.

Third was the lack of a stable government, cited by nearly three-quarters — highlighted by Noda’s recent appointment as the sixth prime minister in five years.

But respondents were divided over whether they favored a fixed four-year term for the prime minister, similar to the U.S. president. Thirty percent favored such a change, while 31 percent opposed it, and 38 percent took neither stance.

No branch of the government has the trust of a majority to do the right thing most of the time. Sixty-five percent trust the parliament to do so less than half the time, and 59 percent hold that view of the Cabinet.

Also, a whopping 85 percent say elected officials are more interested in serving special interests than the people they represent.

On the economic front, 70 percent said conditions are worse today than five years ago, and about a third predicted that they would be worse five years from now — although 42 percent believed they would be about the same.

As in the U.S., the Japanese rate their own personal finances more highly than the nation’s economy.

Still, just 19 percent rate their finances as excellent or in good shape, 53 percent say they are fair and 28 percent say they are poor. About a third say their family’s financial health has declined in the last five years, 13 percent think it’s gotten better and 52 percent say it’s held steady.


On the Web:



How the poll was conducted



The Associated Press-GfK Poll on the attitudes and opinions of Japanese was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Corporate Communications from July 29 to Aug. 10. It is based on landline telephone interviews with a nationally representative random sample of 1,000 adults.

The survey sample frame includes Japanese households that have at least one fixed telephone landline, or about 91 percent of all Japanese households, and represents the national population of Japan age 18 and older living in the 47 prefectures (states).

Digits in the phone numbers dialed were generated randomly to reach households with unlisted and listed numbers. The sample was stratified by region with targets set for the number of complete calls per region.

Interviews were conducted in Japanese by live interviewers in a Tokyo-based telephone interviewing center.

As is done routinely in surveys, results were weighted, or adjusted, to ensure that responses accurately reflect the population’s composition. That included Japan’s mix by age within sex, city or region, and by education.

No more than one time in 20 should chance variations in the sample cause the results to vary by more than plus or minus 3.8 percentage points from the answers that would be obtained if all adults in Japan were polled.

There are other sources of potential error in polls, including the wording and order of questions.

The questions and results are available at

AP-GfK Poll: Most believe allegations about Trump and women
WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump’s behavior has long grated on Carolyn Miller, but the allegations he sexually assaulted women was one factor that helped her decide in the last week to cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t think she’s a bad person. Trump, I think, is a bad person,” the 70-year-old Fort Myers, Florida, resident said. As for Trump’s accusers, Miller added, “I believe them.” And she said her vote for Clinton is “a default.”

Miller is among the more than 7 in 10 Americans who say in a new Associated Press-GfK poll that they believe the women who say the Republican presidential candidate kissed or groped them without their consent, a verdict that may have turned off enough voters, including some Republicans, to add to his challenges in the presidential race.

 Forty-two percent of Republican voters and 35 percent of Trump’s own supporters think the accusations are probably true. Men and women are about equally likely to think so.

While the poll suggests the wave of allegations about Trump’s treatment of women may blunt the impact of voters’ concerns about Clinton, it was taken before Friday’s news that the FBI will investigate whether there is classified information in newly uncovered emails related to its probe of her private server. Those emails were not from her server, according to a U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss details publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Before the development, the poll found that about half of voters say her use of the private server while she was secretary of state makes them less likely to vote for her. But they were more likely to say that Trump’s comments about women bother them a lot than to say the same about Clinton’s email server, 51 percent to 43 percent.

Since September, Clinton seems to have consolidated her support within her own party and drawn undecided voters such as Miller to her campaign, or at least pushed them away from Trump. The billionaire’s recent trouble with women seems to be one factor preventing him from doing the same.

He feuded with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado after Clinton noted he’d called her “Miss Piggy” for gaining weight while she wore the crown. Days later, a 2005 recording surfaced in which Trump can be heard describing himself sexually assaulting women in a conversation with Billy Bush, then the host of “Access Hollywood.”

Several women have since publicly accused Trump of groping and kissing them without permission, including a People magazine reporter who said Trump attacked her when his wife, Melania, was out of the room.

Trump called his remarks on the video “locker room talk,” dismissed the accusations as “fiction” and said of several accusers that they aren’t attractive enough to merit his attention.

Asked Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “The O’Reilly Factor” whether he thinks he would be ahead were it not for the “Access Hollywood” video, Trump replied, “I just don’t know. I think it was very negative.”

A majority of voters, 52 percent, say allegations about the way Trump treats women make them less likely to vote for him, including a fifth of Republican likely voters. And within that group, only about a third say they will vote for him, with about a third supporting Clinton and the remainder supporting third party candidates.

That may help explain why just 79 percent of Republican in the poll said they’re supporting Trump compared with 90 percent of Democrats supporting Clinton. Trump needs to close that gap to have any shot at victory.

Trump has tried to equate the accusations against him with charges of infidelity and sexual assault leveled for years against his rival’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. Trump has paraded the former president’s accusers before the cameras and accused Hillary Clinton of undermining her husband’s accusers.

The poll shows a majority of voters don’t buy Trump’s attempt at equivalence. Six in 10 say the allegations against the Clintons have no impact on their vote. That’s despite the fact that 63 percent think Hillary Clinton has probably threatened or undermined women who have accused her husband of sexual misconduct.

“The vote will be about Hillary Clinton, not her husband,” said Ryan Otteson, 33, of Salt Lake City, who’s voting for a third-party candidate, conservative independent Evan McMullin.

Valori Waggoner, a 26-year-old from Belton, Texas, said she believes Hillary Clinton probably did intimidate her husband’s accusers, but she said it makes no difference to how Waggoner is voting.

Waggoner was not going to vote for Clinton anyway, because as a doctor, Waggoner said she sees firsthand the inefficiency of the national health care plan that Clinton supports. But the alleged wrongdoing by Trump made her less likely to vote for the Republican. Instead, she’s backing Libertarian Gary Johnson.

The degree of alleged wrongdoing by the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, Waggoner said, “are not equal.”

Most likely voters in the poll say they think Trump has little to no respect for women, with female voters especially likely to say he has none at all.

Clinton leads female likely voters by a 22 point margin in the poll, and even has a slight 5 point lead among men. In September’s AP-GfK poll, Clinton led women by a 17 point margin and trailed slightly by 6 points among men.


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,546 adults, including 1,212 likely voters, was conducted online Oct. 20-24, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.75 percentage points, and for likely voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.



Poll results:

AP-GfK poll: Most Trump supporters doubt election legitimacy

By Jonathan Lemire and Emily Swanson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Donald Trump’s dubious claims the presidential election is “rigged” have taken root among most of his supporters, who say they will have serious doubts about the legitimacy of the election’s outcome if Hillary Clinton wins, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

Just 35 percent of Trump’s supporters say they will most likely accept the results of the election as legitimate if Clinton wins, while 64 percent say they’re more likely to have serious doubts about the accuracy of the vote count if the Republican nominee is not the victor.

“Of course I believe it’s rigged, and of course I won’t accept the results,” said Mike Cannilla, 53, a Trump supporter from the New York borough of Staten Island. “It’s from the top: Obama is trying to take over the country, he’s covering up all of Hillary’s crimes and he’s controlling the media trying to make Trump lose.”

“Our only chance on Nov. 9 is if the military develops a conscience and takes matters into its own hands,” Cannilla said.

By contrast, 69 percent of Clinton’s supporters say they’ll accept the outcome if Trump wins. Only 30 percent of the Democratic nominee’s backers express a reluctance to accept the results if the former secretary of state loses on Election Day.

Overall, 77 percent of likely voters say they’ll accept the legitimacy of the results if Trump wins, while 70 percent say the same of a Clinton win.

In the final weeks of the campaign, Trump has made doubts about the integrity of the U.S. election system a cornerstone of his closing argument. Asked directly at the final presidential debate if he would accept the election results, Trump refused, saying: “I will keep you in suspense.”

That extraordinary statement, with its potential to challenge the peaceful transition of power that is a hallmark of the American democracy, did little to harm him with his base of supporters. The poll found that 44 percent of all likely voters say Trump’s stance makes them less likely to support him, but the vast majority of his supporters say it doesn’t make a difference.

“He should fight it all the way,” said George Smith, 51, a Trump supporter from Roswell, Georgia. “Spend weeks in court if he has to. He can’t let it be taken from him. That’s his right.”

Trump has also repeated inaccurate claims that vote fraud is a widespread problem, and the poll finds that most of Trump’s supporters share that concern. Fifty-six percent think there’s a great deal of voter fraud, 36 percent believe there is some, and 6 percent say there’s hardly any.

Most Clinton supporters, 64 percent, think there’s hardly any voter fraud. Overall, just 27 percent of likely voters think there’s a great deal of fraud. A third of voters overall believe there is at least some, while 38 percent say there is hardly any.

While there have been isolated cases of voter fraud in the U.S., there is no evidence of it being a widespread problem. In one study, a Loyola Law School professor found 31 instances involving allegations of voter impersonation out of 1 billion votes cast in U.S. elections between 2000 and 2014.

Beyond allegations of fraud, 40 percent of Trump supporters say they have little to no confidence that votes in the election will be counted accurately. Another 34 percent say they have only a moderate amount of confidence, and just 24 percent say they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the vote count.

Among Clinton supporters, 79 percent say they have a great deal or quite a bit of confidence in the vote count’s accuracy. Many believe Trump should voice support for the electoral system even in defeat.

“Be an adult. Accept the results,” said Shavone Danzy-Kinloch, 37, a Clinton supporter from Farmingville, New York. “If the shoe was on the other foot, he’d expect Hillary to do the same.”

Trump’s supporters are also more likely than others to say they are concerned about hackers interfering with the election. Forty-six percent of them are extremely or very concerned and 37 percent somewhat concerned. Overall, 32 percent of voters say they’re extremely to very concerned and 39 percent somewhat concerned. Among Clinton supporters, 60 percent are at least somewhat concerned.

Although the poll shows many Trump supporters would have doubts about a Clinton win, the poll shows relatively little acute concern that claims of inaccuracy and voter fraud could prevent Americans overall from accepting the results. Just 30 percent of likely voters are extremely or very concerned about that, while another 40 percent are somewhat concerned.

Twenty-nine percent say they’re not very or not at all concerned.

“If she wins, we’re all going to have live with it,” said Daniel Ricco, 76, a Trump supporter from Milford, Connecticut. “It won’t be good for the country, but there’s nothing we can do.”


The AP-GfK Poll of 1,546 adults, including 1,212 likely voters, was conducted online Oct. 20-24, using a sample drawn from GfK’s probability-based KnowledgePanel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 2.75 percentage points, and for likely voters is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Respondents were first selected randomly using telephone or mail survey methods and later interviewed online. People selected for KnowledgePanel who didn’t have access to the internet were provided access for free.



Poll results:


Swanson reported from Washington.


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