Support for Cabinet flat despite passage of tax hike; swing vote rises to 48.5%

Kyodo

Public support for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet is still hovering at around 28 percent despite the passage last week of an unpopular tax bill and desire for an early general election, the latest survey says, and nearly half of the nation doesn’t like any of the political parties.

According to the results of a Kyodo News poll carried out over the weekend, the Cabinet is polling at 27.9 percent support, virtually unchanged from 28.1 percent a month ago. Its disapproval rating stood at 59.0 percent, down from 60.0 percent in the previous poll July 15. No margin of error was given.

As for the decision to double the consumption tax rate to 10 percent by 2015, 56.1 percent oppose it and 42.2 percent support it. Noda staked his political career on the legislation’s passage.

As for how big a role nuclear power should play in the national energy mix by 2030, 42.4 percent back the “zero nuclear reliance option” offered at a nationwide series of state-sponsored public hearings on nuclear energy.

Of the rest, 32.4 percent favor the 15 percent option and 16.8 percent the 20 to 25 percent option.

The poll also found that 35.1 percent want the House of Representatives to be dissolved as soon as possible for the election, followed by 24.6 percent who want both the lower and upper house races to be held next summer.

Those who want dissolution to take place between autumn and winter this year came to 22.5 percent.

The random telephone survey was conducted after the House of Councilors passed the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s contentious tax legislation on Friday with help from the opposition-leading Liberal Democratic Party and junior opposition partner New Komeito.

It covered 1,463 households with at least one voter and received valid responses from 1,018 people.

By party, the LDP had a support rating of 20.8 percent, up 3 points, while the DPJ’s rating stood at 11.8 percent, down 3.6 points and the lowest level since it swept to power in the historic 2009 general election.

Approval rates for the other parties stood at 5.5 percent for Your Party, 3.2 percent for the Japanese Communist Party, 2.9 percent for New Komeito, and 2.4 percent for Kokumin no Seikatsu ga Daiichi (People’s Life First), the party recently established by former DPJ chief Ichiro Ozawa.

More telling about the state of politics in Japan, however, was the number of uncommitted voters, which stood at 48.5 percent — up 4.1 points from the previous survey.

Shigeru Ishiba, an LDP lawmaker who served as defense minister before the DPJ’s rise to power, is the most popular candidate for prime minister and received the backing of 9.8 percent of the respondents.

Ishiba was followed by LDP Secretary General Nobuteru Ishihara with 9.6 percent, DPJ Deputy Prime Minister Katsuya Okada at 7.4 percent, followed by DPJ trade minister Yukio Edano and DPJ policy chief Seiji Maehara, both of whom garnered 7.2 percent.

DPJ President Noda, who assumed office in September last year, was supported by 6.9 percent. LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki was backed by 4 percent.