Poll finds little impact from Ozawa departure

Kyodo News

Ichiro Ozawa’s announcement that he will resign as leader of the Democratic Party of Japan has so far had no significant impact on the upcoming general election, a Kyodo survey suggested Tuesday.

In a telephone poll conducted Monday and Tuesday, 65.5 percent of the 1,024 respondents said Ozawa’s resignation as DPJ chief over a political fundraising scandal has come too late, with only 24.7 percent agreeing that his stated reason for stepping down — to enhance party solidarity to win the election and form a government — was convincing.

Meanwhile, the approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso fell to 28.0 percent, down 1.6 points from the previous Kyodo poll in late April. On the other hand, the Cabinet’s disapproval rate also fell, by 1.1 points to 55.1 percent.

The poll was conducted after Ozawa announced his resignation. Some DPJ lawmakers had publicly called for him to step down to take the blame for the scandal, in which his top aide has been indicted.

The survey found that the DPJ has widened its lead over Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party in the proportional representation sector for the upcoming election for the House of the Representatives, with 36.5 percent of the respondents saying they will vote for the DPJ in that category against 26.7 percent who said they will vote for the LDP.

In the previous poll, the figures were 37.9 percent for the DPJ and 30.8 percent for the LDP.

The two parties were still neck and neck in terms of overall support in the latest poll, with 26.6 percent of the respondents saying they back the LDP, down from 29.4 percent, and 25.9 percent opting for the DPJ, down from 29.7 percent.

The DPJ is set to select a successor to Ozawa on Saturday, and the poll showed that Katsuya Okada, the party’s vice president, was the most popular candidate, followed by Secretary General Yukio Hatoyama.

Of the respondents, 23.7 percent said Okada is the most appropriate pick to head the DPJ, followed by Hatoyama with 16.9 percent, acting DPJ President Naoto Kan with 14.1 percent and acting policy chief Akira Nagatsuma with 8.1 percent.