Cabinet approval rate falls to 47.6%

Ozawa, leniency over Senkaku draw disfavor

Kyodo News

Public support for Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s Cabinet plunged to 47.6 percent in the latest Kyodo News poll released Wednesday, reflecting dissatisfaction with the handling of a territorial row with China and a money scandal involving ruling party kingpin Ichiro Ozawa.

The approval rating for the Cabinet fell 16.8 percentage points from 64.4 percent in the previous poll, conducted shortly after Kan reshuffled his Cabinet on Sept. 17, while its disapproval rating rose to 36.6 percent from the previous 21.2 percent.

In the latest survey conducted Tuesday and Wednesday, 54.3 percent of respondents answered that Ozawa, former chief and secretary general of the Democratic Party of Japan, should resign from the Diet after a citizens panel said Monday he should be indicted over accounting irregularities.

But more respondents — 63.8 percent — said the political heavyweight, who unsuccessfully challenged Kan in the DPJ’s presidential election Sept. 14, should leave the party.

The vast majority — 86.4 percent — said they are not satisfied with Ozawa’s denial of wrongdoing despite the indictment of three of his former aides over a land deal in Tokyo.

A total of 1,006 valid responses were obtained from 1,447 households randomly contacted by phone on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The survey also showed that 72.3 percent opposed the release of a Chinese trawler captain who had been detained after his ship collided with Japan Coast Guard patrol ships near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea on Sept. 7.

Fully 82.0 percent answered that they are not satisfied with the government’s claim that it did not influence the prosecutors’ decision to free the skipper.

In announcing the release, the Naha District Public Prosecutor’s Office said Sept. 24 that it reached the decision in consideration of future Japan-China relations.

Concerning Ozawa, 36.2 percent want him to keep his Diet seat, while 26.4 percent see no reason for him to leave the DPJ.