Noda drawing flak for tax hike

Support rate for Cabinet sinks to 35.7%

Kyodo

Public support for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet has plunged to 35.7 percent from 44.6 percent last month, with more than half — 50.5 percent — expressing disapproval for the first time since Noda took office in September, a Kyodo News poll said Sunday.

The Saturday-Sunday poll also said 52.9 percent oppose the Noda administration’s controversial two-stage plan to double the consumption tax, but that 45.6 percent back it.

Nearly three quarters of the respondents, or 74.4 percent, said Noda’s explanations about the plan, which would hike the sales tax from 5 percent to 8 percent in April 2014 and to 10 percent in October 2015, were “insufficient.”

However, 74.6 percent of the respondents said the opposition camp should comply with the ruling party’s request to attend a coordination session on social security and tax reforms before the government submits the tax hike bills to the Diet.

The poll also showed 65.5 percent support the idea of allowing female members of the Imperial family to create their own branches of the family and to retain their Imperial status after marriage.

Noda has just decided to tweak his Cabinet by jettisoning ministers who were censured in the Diet last month, to appease the opposition camp and win its cooperation on the tax hike.

But his support ratings have fallen in recent polls, and coordination work between his ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition camp has hit a snag over a plan to submit bills on the consumption tax hike to the Diet.

On Sunday, Noda hinted that a minor Cabinet reshuffle might be carried out on Friday, commenting on a recent instruction he gave his ministers to make sure they attend the regular Cabinet meeting the same day. “The point is, I want all Cabinet members to get together to create a solid team and work as one as soon as possible,” Noda said during a trip to Fukushima Prefecture.

Many politicians are speculating Noda will reshuffle the Cabinet on Friday because of the censure motions passed in the opposition-controlled Upper House last month against Defense Minister Yasuo Ichikawa and consumer affairs minister Kenji Yamaoka.

Noda’s order prompted Ichikawa to shorten his trip to Mongolia and other ministers to consider changing or canceling their trips abroad

As for Ichikawa and Yamaoka, 57.2 percent said they should be replaced and 31.0 said they should not. The telephone survey, conducted Saturday and Sunday, drew valid responses from 1,016 eligible voters in 1,459 households randomly dialed across Japan, apart from parts of Fukushima Prefecture evacuated by the nuclear crisis.