Aso rating up, at Ozawa’s expense

Kyodo News

The public approval rating for Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Cabinet is now 23.7 percent, up 7.7 points from earlier this month, a survey showed Thursday.

The disapproval rating eased to 63.5 percent, down 7.3 points from the previous survey conducted on March 7 and 8. The latest poll was conducted Wednesday and Thursday.

The results of the nationwide telephone survey also indicate 66.6 percent of the respondents think Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa should step down because his secretary was charged with illegal fundraising, but 28.9 percent said the opposition leader should stay.

Asked whether they would prefer Aso or Ozawa as prime minister, 33.1 percent said Aso, up 7.5 points, while 31.2 percent said Ozawa, down 2.4 points, reversing Ozawa’s edge over beleaguered Aso.

As for Ozawa’s explanation of his aide’s indictment, 79.7 percent said they were not satisfied while 12 percent said they were.

The outcome will inevitably throw fuel on the increasing discontent in the DPJ’s ranks and increase pressure on Ozawa to step down so the party can halt the damage ahead of the Lower House election, which must be held by fall.

Despite Ozawa’s announcement Tuesday that he will stay on and party executives’ decision to stand by him, some heavyweights and many of the rank and file are critical of the DPJ leader and those who support him.