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2008年12月 9日 (火)

社説:内閣支持激減 「もう任せられない」が世論だ

(Mainichi Japan) December 8, 2008

Approval rating shows public thinks it cannot leave fate of country to Aso Cabinet

社説:内閣支持激減 「もう任せられない」が世論だ

The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso plummeted to 21 percent less than three months after it was inaugurated. The opinion poll the Mainichi Shimbun conducted over the weekend shows that the approval rating fell 15 points from October and the disapproval rating hit 58 percent. As politics under the leadership of Aso is drifting, the government appears as if it is on the verge of collapse.


Amid the worsening economic situation such as employment insecurity, we express concern that the prime minister who cannot win public support is remaining in office with no clear prospects of achieving his policy goals. We would like to call for an early dissolution of the House of Representatives for a snap general election.


His latest support rating is close to 18 percent, the worst figure for the Cabinet of his predecessor Yasuo Fukuda recorded in May. As to a question about who is more suited to serve as prime minister, those who chose Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) leader Ichiro Ozawa slightly outnumbered those who were in favor of Aso, even though Aso had garnered support from twice the number of those who were in favor of Ozawa in earlier polls. The results have apparently dealt a serious blow to the prime minister.


The steep decline in his approval rating is attributable to inconsistencies in his remarks about the government's plans to provide cash benefits to virtually all households and to incorporate road construction into the general budget. His gaffes that show a lack of consideration to other people and his mistakes in reading kanji (Chinese characters) are also believed to be contributing to his loss of public support.


In fact, 70 percent of the pollees said they do not support the government's plan to provide cash benefits to households, and 61 percent disapproved of Aso's decision to postpone the submission of the draft of the second supplementary budget to the next regular Diet session in January.


Many people are apparently doubtful about the prime minister's policies and his ability to manage the government, and are beginning to feel that they can no longer leave the fate of the nation to the Aso Cabinet.


Aso is also losing support from a growing number of LDP members, but the prime minister is not solely to blame for that. As a question as to which party they want to win the next House of Representatives election, respondents who answered the DPJ outnumbered those in favor the LDP by a larger margin than earlier polls even though those who back the DPJ did not increase. This apparently reflects the public's criticism of the LDP for not supporting the administration once the prime minister's popularity showed signs of decline.


One cannot but wonder whether the results of the opinion poll will further discourage Prime Minister Aso from calling a general election at an early date and whether the LDP will try to tide over the headwind simply by holding another leadership election and replace the prime minister. In any case, it is highly likely that the ruling coalition will be thrown into chaos and become unable to implement bold economic stimulus measures.


The prime minister should take seriously public opinion that had been supportive of his stance to place priority on efforts to save the economy rather than a general election is gradually changing. The largest percentage of the respondents in the latest Mainichi poll called for an immediate dissolution of the Lower House. And a majority of the pollees are in favor of dissolution by next spring at the latest.


This shows that numerous people regard the drifting political situation, rather than dissolution of the Lower House, as a political vacuum. The prime minister and the ruling coalition as a whole should listen to the public's outcry. We believe it is the best for the government to incorporate economic stimulus measures that can be supported by both the ruling and opposition parties into the second supplementary budget bill, and have them clear the Diet at an early date before the prime minister dissolves the Lower House to seek voters' response to the measures.


毎日新聞 2008128日 東京朝刊


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