The Cabinet formed by newly elected Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi received a resounding 86.3 percent approval rating in an opinion poll released Saturday by Kyodo News, the highest ever for a Kyodo telephone poll conducted immediately after the formation of a new Cabinet.
The previous high was 75.7 percent support for the Cabinet of Morihiro Hosokawa immediately after he ousted the Liberal Democratic Party from power in August 1993.
Only 6 percent of the those questioned said they disapprove of Koizumi’s Cabinet.
Kyodo News conducted the telephone survey on 1,000 people Friday and Saturday on the new Cabinet, announced Thursday.
The popularity of Koizumi, who won a landslide victory in the LDP presidential election last week on the strength of his reformist agenda, marks a sharp contrast with the extremely low approval ratings of his predecessor, Yoshiro Mori, which had dropped to single-digit figures in his final months in office.
LDP lawmakers and leaders of the party’s coalition allies said they hope the strong support bodes well for the alliance in the Upper House election in July.
Asked why they support Koizumi, 29 percent of the respondents — the largest group — said they expect him to carry out political reforms.
Koizumi appointed five women in his Cabinet — the largest number ever — and three nonpoliticians, another rare move. The female Cabinet members include Foreign Minister Makiko Tanaka, who also has wide popular appeal.
Koizumi’s personal appeal apparently spilled over to have an impact on voters’ support for political parties, with those endorsing the LDP accounting for 36.2 percent, up by 11.8 percentage points from a similar Kyodo poll taken just two weeks ago.
On the other hand, the support rate for the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, dipped by 7 points to a mere 10 percent.
Asked which party they would vote for in the Upper House election in July, 34.7 percent said they “will vote for the LDP and candidates backed by the LDP.”
Only 11 percent said they would do back the DPJ and its candidates.
Asked about the challenges facing the Koizumi administration, 38.9 percent cited measures to boost the nation’s economy, followed by 19 percent saying structural economic reform, including steps to eliminate nonperforming loans in the banking sector. Next came the 12.8 percent who cited fiscal rehabilitation.
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