A nationwide survey over the weekend shows the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet is essentially holding level at 44.5 percent while again being surpassed by the disapproval rating, which rose 2.9 points to 46.1 percent.
According to the Kyodo News poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, the Cabinet’s approval rating edged up just 0.1 point from August but was eclipsed by the disapproval rating for the first time since July.
In July, scandals pushed the Cabinet’s approval rating down to 35.8 percent, the lowest since Abe began his second stint as prime minister in 2012. The disapproval rating had soared to 53.1 percent at the time.
Asked about new Democratic Party leader Seiji Maehara, who was chosen Friday to lead the struggling opposition party, 51.2 percent of the respondents said they had no expectations for him, topping 40.3 percent who said they had certain expectations.
By party, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party was supported by 34.7 percent of the respondents, down 4.3 points, and the main opposition Democratic Party was backed by 7.5 percent, up 0.2 point.
The survey covered 739 randomly selected households with eligible voters as well as 1,085 mobile phone numbers, and received responses from 506 and 504 people, respectively.
Regarding the DP’s electoral cooperation with other opposition parties, in particular the Japanese Communist Party, 51.8 percent of those polled said the DP should not continue cooperating, while 33.0 percent said it should.
The realignment of the opposition camp is accelerating ahead of the next general election to be held by December 2018, involving lawmakers close to or interested in affiliating with Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, whose Tomin First no Kai (Tokyoites First) scored a landslide victory in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election on July 2.
In the poll, 38.4 percent said they have certain expectations for the new party envisioned by independent lawmaker Masaru Wakasa, a close Koike ally, while 51.0 percent said they do not.
Following North Korea’s ballistic missile launch over Hokkaido last Tuesday, 52.6 percent said Japan should increase pressure on North Korea and 42.7 percent said it should put emphasis on dialogue with Pyongyang.
As for the timing of dissolution of the House of Representatives for a general election, 42.5 percent said a snap election should be called in fall or winter of next year, shortly before lawmakers’ terms expire in December 2018.
Some 15.4 percent called for a snap election this year and 12.9 percent want it next spring.
On Abe’s goal of revising the Constitution, 46.8 percent said his Liberal Democratic Party should propose an amendment to the Diet when the ordinary session begins in January, and 37.5 percent said they do not see a need to submit a proposal at that time.