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2008年12月 9日 (火)

内閣支持率急落 麻生自民党は立ち直れるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 9, 2008)

Plummet in popularity bodes ill for Aso, LDP

内閣支持率急落 麻生自民党は立ち直れるか(129日付・読売社説)

The latest Yomiuri Shimbun survey on the approval rating of Prime Minister Taro Aso's Cabinet shows that the prime minister and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party are in an extremely difficult situation.


According to the survey conducted in early December, the Cabinet's approval rating plunged to 20.9 percent, almost half the figure recorded in the corresponding survey conducted in early November. Figures at such a level indicate that the prime minister has little hope of keeping the present administration in power.


The main cause of the sharp decline in the approval rating is Aso's performance over the past month.


First, Aso decided to delay submission to the current extended Diet session of the second supplementary budget including an additional economic stimulus package.


Second, Aso has expressed no consistent opinion about whether to set an income eligibility cap for the distribution of 2 trillion yen in fixed sum cash benefits to households in the additional economic stimulus package, which also exposed a lack of consensus within the Cabinet on a measure that involves a huge sum of money.


Third, a series of gaffes by Aso and his failure to read kanji characters correctly have also had an adverse impact. In one notorious incident, he said that many doctors lack common sense.



Failing on issues and character

In the survey, two out of three respondents consider the delay in submitting the second extra budget to the current Diet session "inappropriate" and about 70 percent of them do not support the fixed sum cash handouts.


Among the reasons given for not supporting Aso's Cabinet, the number of people responding that his leadership is lacking increased substantially. The prime minister should take this public criticism seriously.


Aso's Cabinet now faces a crucial moment concerning the compilation of the fiscal 2009 budget and measures to reform the tax system. If the prime minister cannot display his leadership in handling such problems, it will become more and more difficult for the Cabinet to resurrect the administration's fortunes.


This survey result shows a serious situation confronting the LDP.


The approval rating for the LDP was surpassed by that for the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan. The LDP had not ceded the top position in terms of party support since the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.


Asked which party they would cast their votes for in the proportional representation ballot in the next House of Representatives election, voters surveyed chose the DPJ by a wide margin. This marked the first time since the launch of the Aso Cabinet that the DPJ has surpassed the LDP in the responses to this question.



Voters changing preference

The response to these two questions point to support shifting from the LDP to the DPJ. The increase in distrust of and dissatisfaction with the LDP underlies these results. The numbers should motivate the LDP to seriously reconsider their approach to the current political situation.


The power of a party leader is significant under the current electoral system which elects lower house members both from single-seat constituencies and regional proportional representation contests. Asked who is preferable as prime minister, DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa surpassed Aso, who also is the president of the LDP, for the first time.


Frustrations are mounting within the LDP due to the declining popularity of Aso, who was expected to represent the party in the next general election. Some LDP members have criticized the prime minister and the party leadership, while others have tried to strengthen pressure on the government to spend money in their areas as an election ploy.


However, it was the LDP itself that selected Aso as prime minister. The party should not shirk its responsibility. In the current financial crisis, what the party should do for the present is put all its efforts, along with those of the prime minister, into mapping out and implementing effective measures to boost the economy and employment.


(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 9, 2008)

20081290142  読売新聞)


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