Photo/IllutrationPrime Minister Shinzo Abe in a Lower House Budget Committee meeting on Feb. 18 (Takeshi Iwashita)

Sixty-one percent of people believe the Abe administration's handling of the statistics-gathering scandal to find the truth was inadequate, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Even among supporters of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, the rate of respondents who said the response was inappropriate was 49 percent, according to the survey results, released Feb. 18.

Among those who do not support any political parties, the corresponding figure was 64 percent.

The Asahi Shimbun conducted the nationwide telephone poll on Feb. 16 and 17 on the labor ministry's questionable data-gathering methods and other issues.

It was revealed in December that the ministry had used erroneous data-gathering methods since 2004 for the Monthly Labor Survey. The botched data resulted in the short-changing of about 20 million beneficiaries of more than 55 billion yen ($496.8 million) in social insurance benefits.

The survey asked respondents whether their trust in government statistics was eroded by the scandal, with 67 percent saying yes, and 21 percent saying no.

Even after the scandal came to light, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, “Our judgment that the employment and income situations are improving remains unchanged.”

Asked whether they accept Abe’s explanation, 64 percent of the respondents answered no, while 20 percent said yes.

Among supporters of the Abe Cabinet, 43 percent said that they can’t accept it while 41 percent answered that they can. Among nonsupporters, 91 percent replied that they can't do so.

With regard to the issue of the Northern Territories, a group of islands off eastern Hokkaido occupied by Russia but claimed by Japan, Abe recently stopped referring to them as “territories indigenous to Japan,” on the grounds that such words would affect negotiations with Russia on their return to Japan.

The survey asked respondents whether they accepted Abe's stance, with 47 percent saying no and 32 percent replying yes.

The survey also asked respondents whether gaffe-prone Olympics minister Yoshitaka Sakurada is suitable for the post. A total of 65 percent said he is not, while 13 percent said he is.

Meanwhile, the government announced that there is a good possibility that the current economic recovery period is the longest in postwar Japan.

Respondents were asked whether they felt that the economy has recovered, with 78 percent saying no and 16 percent saying yes.

Recently, there has been a string of incidents in which parents have abused their children in the name of providing discipline. In one such case, a man was arrested last month in connection with his 10-year-old daughter's death on suspicion of terrorizing her with physical and mental abuse.

The survey also asked whether it is better to prohibit parents from physically punishing their children under the law.

In response, 46 percent supported the prohibition, while 32 percent opposed it.

In other questions, the support rate for the Abe Cabinet stood at 41 percent, down from 43 percent in the previous survey conducted Jan. 19 and 20. The rate of nonsupport remained unchanged at 38 percent.

Among male respondents, the support rate rose to 48 percent from 46 percent. Among female respondents, however, the support rate declined to 35 percent from 41 percent.

The survey was conducted with eligible voters randomly chosen by computer.

Among 1,934 households reached through land-line telephones except for those in a part of Fukushima Prefecture, 960 people, or 50 percent, gave valid responses. In addition, of 2,080 people reached through mobile phones, 967, or 46 percent, gave valid responses.