Photo/IllutrationThe government proceeds with land reclamation work off the Henoko district of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, on Dec. 15. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Sixty percent of Japanese oppose the central government’s recently started land reclamation project for a new U.S. military facility in Okinawa Prefecture, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed on Dec. 18.

Only 26 percent support the government’s move of pouring earth and sand into the sea area off Henoko for a base that will take over the functions of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Ginowan in the prefecture, according to the nationwide survey conducted on Dec. 15 and 16.

The government started the land reclamation project on Dec. 14 despite protests from the Okinawa governor and residents who say the prefecture already shoulders too much of a burden in hosting U.S. military facilities in Japan.

The landfill project also split supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with 43 percent of them in favor of the work and 42 percent against it, the survey showed.

About half of the supporters of the LDP’s junior coalition partner, Komeito, were against the reclamation project, far exceeding the ratio in support of the plan.

Among people who disapprove of the Abe Cabinet, 83 percent oppose the landfill work while 9 percent support it.

The reclamation project had long been delayed as the central and Okinawa prefectural governments carried their feud to court.

The two sides held intensive discussions on the issue, but after those talks failed to produce an agreement, the central government proceeded with the reclamation project.

Seventy-six percent of respondents in the survey said the dialogue between the government and Okinawa Prefecture was insufficient, compared with 11 percent who said the talks were sufficient, according to the survey.

Even among respondents who support the reclamation work, 54 percent of them said the dialogue was insufficient, while 34 percent said it was sufficient.

The survey also asked respondents about revisions to the immigration control law that will allow more foreign workers into the country to help ease labor shortages. The Diet passed the revisions on Dec. 8 during an extraordinary session.

Forty-six percent of respondents support the expanded acceptance of foreign workers, while 40 percent oppose the plan.

However, 48 percent gave low marks for the revisions themselves, compared with 39 percent who highly appraised the changes passed in the Diet.

The ruling coalition passed the revisions despite heavy criticism from opposition parties that insufficient debate was held on the legislation.

According to the survey, 73 percent of respondents agreed that the government’s explanations in the Diet were insufficient, while 10 percent answered that the explanations were sufficient.

Some 68 percent of respondents who support an increase in foreign workers also said the government failed to provide sufficient explanations of the bill.

The extraordinary Diet session that closed on Dec. 10 also saw passage on Dec. 6 of revisions to the Water Supply Law that will make it easier to privatize water supply businesses.

Twenty-six percent of respondents support the passage while 55 percent oppose it.

Opinions were divided among supporters of the Abe Cabinet, with 41 percent backing the changes and 43 percent opposing them.

The approval rate of the Abe Cabinet was 40 percent, down from 43 percent in the previous survey conducted in November, while the disapproval rate jumped from 34 percent to 41 percent.

The government’s forceful ways apparently invited a stronger backlash from women.

Among female respondents, the Cabinet approval rate dropped from 39 percent to 34 percent, while the disapproval rate climbed from 34 percent to 43 percent.

Regarding the government’s land reclamation move off Henoko, 65 percent of female respondents oppose the project while just 16 percent support it. Among male respondents, the ratios were 53 percent against and 36 percent in favor.

Women were also less inclined to give favorable evaluations of the revisions to the immigration control law.

The Asahi Shimbun conducted the survey by randomly choosing numbers for land-line telephones and mobile phones via computer.

Land-line telephones in some areas of Fukushima Prefecture were excluded in the survey.

Among the 1,928 households contacted through land-line telephones, 1,003 eligible voters, or 52 percent, gave valid responses. As for mobile phone users, 916 of 1,942 eligible voters, or 47 percent, gave valid responses.