Hatoyama Cabinet support rate at 33%

More than half now negative; Masuzoe shines

Kyodo News

The approval rate for Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Cabinet has fallen to 33 percent and the disapproval rating topped the 50 percent mark for the first time since its launch last September at 53.3 percent, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

The support rate fell 3.3 points from a similar nationwide telephone poll conducted in March and hit a new low for the Cabinet, while the disapproval rate rose 4.4 points.

Only 27.1 percent of the respondents said they expect much from a new political party being planned by former Finance Minister Kaoru Yosano, who is set to leave the Liberal Democratic Party, and by independent Takeo Hiranuma, a former trade minister, and 65.9 percent said they do not.

In the survey, conducted Saturday and Sunday, 1,470 households with eligible voters were called and valid responses were received from 1,024 individuals.

Asked whether Hatoyama should resign if he fails to settle the issue of relocating U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa by the end of May as pledged, 47.1 percent said yes, versus 45.3 percent who said there is no need for him to step down.

As for the July Upper House election, 21.2 percent said they would vote for the LDP in the proportional-representation section, down 5.1 percent from the month before, and 26.3 percent preferred Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan, down 0.6 point.

When asked who would be best suited to be prime minister, 22.4 percent of the respondents, the highest proportion, picked former Health, Labor and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe of the LDP. He was followed by Deputy Prime Minister Naoto Kan at 8.9 percent and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada at 7.8 percent.

Hatoyama tumbled from second to fifth at 7.1 percent.