Fresh polling data out of TVBS might give us some insight on where Taiwanese citizens stand on importing food stuffs from Fukushima and how their views have shifted over time.

This polling was conducted by TVBS from February 8th to 11th by phone, both landlines and cellphones. There were a total of 929 valid samples were collected, 470 of those were via landline and 459 were collected through cellphones. All those polled were 20 years of age or older. The data has a margin of error of +/-3.2 percent.

The data first looks at President Tsai Ing-wen’s overall satisfaction numbers. This shows an uptick in the number of people that are satisfied with her performance recently. Even since the end of last year her favorable numbers have jumped up 5 points, from 41 to 46. The number of individuals that reported to be dissatisfied also dropped in this period from 39 to 34, seeming to show that they flipped, rather than simply previously unopinionated people jumping to one side.

While these are not record highs for Tsai, her numbers have been on the increase since September of last year. When shift to looking at how people feel about the importation of food from Fukushima and the surrounding areas there has been a massive shift over the past 6 years.

Those that view the move as favorable overall were as low as 13 percent back in 2016, just 5 years after the horrific nuclear disaster in Fukushima. This number has climbed to 44  percent, an increase of 31 points. Those that disapprove of the policy have greatly declined from 73 percent in 2016 down to 45 percent now, a decrease of 28 percent. This puts those in favor and opposed well within the margin of error, with only 1 percentage point separating the two groups.

One interesting note with the two broad groups of approve and disapprove is that those that support more often answered that they simply generally support the move, 33 percent, as opposed to strongly support, only 11 percent. However, those that oppose the policy change more often strongly oppose it, 27 percent, while only 18 generally oppose it. This seems to suggest that those against the policy, while essentially the same number as those supporting it, appear much more fervent in their stance.

Looking at the data by age, we can see that young people are the most supportive of the move. Those aged 20 to 29 support the change at 52 percent. Though this group also makes up the smallest portion of the data, the accounted for 15 percent of all people polled. The next highest group was 40 to 49 year-olds who had 49 percent support of the policy shift. This group also saw the largest shift in support from 2016 until now, in 2016 the group only showed 5 percent support for the move.

The age group with the most opposition to the move is 50 to 59 year-olds. 54 percent of this group is against allowing the food imports. The next highest group after them was those aged 40 to 49 who oppose the move at 47 percent. Previously this was actually the group that was the most opposed, they had 89 percent opposition back in 2016, a decrease of 42 points over the past 6 years.

Looking at the data via region, it seems southerners are most in favor of the move with respondents from Kaohsiung, Pingtung, and Penghu approving of the shift with 51 percent. The group least amenable to the idea were those in the north. Two groups tied for most opposed. The two groups were Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli along with Keelung, Taipei, and New Taipei. Both groups responded at a rate of 49 percent that they are against the imports.

In terms of education the move found its highest support with those with bachelor’s degrees or higher, with 47 percent of that group in favor of opening imports. Though an equal number of that group also opposed the change. The group with the highest opposition to the shift were those in the middle with junior high or higher educations, they opposed the shift at a rate of 49 percent.

Breaking down the data by political party, we can see some perhaps unsurprising trends. Pan-Green parties were overall in favor of the policy change, while pan-Blue were generally opposed. The DPP had the strongest support for the move with 80 percent in favor, a 60 point jump from 2016 numbers. The least in favor was, perhaps unsurprisingly the KMT, who opposed the imports with 79 percent. The TPP, Ko Wen-je’s party, was closely behind with 66 percent against the move. The two other pan-Green parties mentioned, the NPP and TSP, supported the importation at rates of 73 and 77 percent respectively.

The data is not incredibly surprising, mostly breaking down along parties lines. It is likely to turn into a similar situation as the import of ractopamine pork from the United States. Most people will probably not care as long as food is adequately tested and labled. Most people have more important things to worry about. However, the pan-Blue camp is likely to try and make hay with this move, time will tell if they get any traction from it.