The Hatoyama Cabinet, which enjoyed an approval rating of 72 percent when it started in mid-September, is now writhing under an approval rating that has plummeted to 20.7 percent in an April 28-29 Kyodo News poll — a drop of 12.3 points from the previous poll on April 3 and 4. Meanwhile, the disapproval rating climbed 11.1 points to 64.4 percent.
Many people are dissatisfied with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. Of those who did not support his administration, the largest group (40.7 percent) complained about his lack of leadership and the second largest (18.9 percent) said they cannot trust him. Apparently, his haphazard handling of the issue of finding a relocation site for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, and political funds problems involving him and Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa are costing him a lot in public support. The poll shows that 83.8 percent want Mr. Ozawa to resign from the party post.
The only thing Mr. Hatoyama can do about Futenma is to make utmost efforts to solve the issue with sincerity and perseverance. He also must have the Cabinet ministers and bureaucrats concerned wholeheartedly help and cooperate with him. To regain people’s trust, he and Mr. Ozawa should not shy away from explaining in full their fund problems.
There are no miraculous ways to change the tide. Mr. Hatoyama, Mr. Ozawa and DPJ lawmakers should seriously consider a long-term goal: the kind of nation they would like to build. Then they must strictly prioritize the DPJ’s election promises in accordance with this grand goal, paying attention to the simple fact that given the current financial conditions, it will be impossible to carry out the promises as intended in the party’s election manifesto.
The Cabinet and the DPJ also must improve their decision-making process. They should create a frank and transparent communications channel. This is necessary to avoid the impression that Mr. Ozawa often overturns decisions made by the Cabinet. He also should make transparent the process in which the party accepts petitions from people and various organizations.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.