Cabinet approval rating up 6 points as Ozawa slides

Kyodo News

The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso rose 5.9 percentage points from late March to 29.6 percent, a Kyodo News survey showed Wednesday.

The disapproval rating came to 56.2 percent, down 7.3 points from the March survey, according to the nationwide telephone survey conducted Tuesday and Wednesday.

The latest poll also showed that 65.5 percent of the 1,014 randomly selected respondents want Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa to step down over the indictment of his top secretary in connection with alleged illegal funds from general contractor Nishimatsu Construction Co., compared with 66.6 percent in the previous survey.

The results suggest approval of the Aso Cabinet rose thanks to persistent criticism of Ozawa, even as the disapproval rate for the administration remains high.

Asked who they would rather have as prime minister, 39.8 percent said Aso, up 6.7 points from the March poll and 13.7 points higher than the percentage preferring Ozawa.

Asked about the proportional representation system in the next election for the House of Representatives, 30.8 percent of the respondents said they will vote for Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party, while 37.9 percent said they favor the DPJ, which maintained its lead over the LDP in the category.

A Lower House poll must be held by the fall.

The LDP and DPJ, however, are still neck and neck in the latest survey, with 29.4 percent of the respondents supporting the LDP and 29.7 percent backing the DPJ.

The LDP grabbed the top position in the previous poll in late March after being overtaken by the DPJ in a survey in early March, but the positions were reversed again in the latest poll.

The nationwide poll also suggests that a majority do not have faith in a ¥14.7 trillion extra budget for fiscal 2009 to finance fresh government stimulus measures, with 55.0 percent saying little will come of it, against 38.6 percent who gave high marks to the budget.