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2009年3月27日 (金)

小沢代表進退 「世論」の逆風にたえられるか

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 27, 2009)
Can Ozawa survive public's chagrin?
小沢代表進退 「世論」の逆風にたえられるか(3月27日付・読売社説)

What should Democratic Party of Japan leader Ichiro Ozawa make of the latest opinion poll results?

Two out of three voters in an ad hoc survey by The Yomiuri Shimbun said they were not supportive of Ozawa's decision to stay on as party leader following the indictment of his state-funded first secretary over alleged violations of the Political Funds Control Law.

Ozawa has said that the issue of whether his staying on would affect the party is wholly in the hands of the public--for better or for worse. The negative public reaction reflected in the survey likely will put fresh pressure on Ozawa to decide on whether to resign.

However, this is not the only bad news for Ozawa and the DPJ.


Voter support fading fast

Asked in the survey whether Ozawa was accountable over suspected illegal donations made by a construction firm to his political fund-management organization, most of the respondents said "no."

Ozawa has held a number of press conferences since the scandal broke, during which he has claimed the allegations are minor and concern only formalities over donations made. He has thus failed to frankly answer questions that are at the heart of this political scandal, and the views expressed by voters in the survey are therefore only natural.

At the press conference following the indictment, Ozawa said, "My primary mission is to have parliamentary democracy take root in Japan through a change in power," a reiteration of his push for a DPJ victory in the next general election.

But the survey results do not match Ozawa's ambitions.

Regarding who is better suited to serve as prime minister, fewer respondents chose Ozawa than Prime Minister Taro Aso. In previous surveys conducted since December--even following the arrest of the secretary in early March--Ozawa had maintained his lead against Aso. But now the situation has suddenly been reversed.


LDP regains edge

In previous surveys when voters were asked which party would receive their support in proportional representation votes, the DPJ had a sizable lead over the Liberal Democratic Party. But the latest survey finds the two parties neck and neck. In a survey from early March, overall approval ratings for the two parties were almost level, but the latest survey now shows the LDP has pulled ahead of the DPJ.

The Aso Cabinet had seen its approval rating plunge since late last year, and the Cabinet's stability has looked in doubt. But adverse winds blowing against the Aso Cabinet have changed direction and are now buffeting the DPJ under Ozawa's leadership.

Criticism also has been voiced over the DPJ's decision to allow Ozawa to remain in his post. The public's disapproval is likely the result of party members failing to hold any constructive talks on the scandal involving the party leader.

However, with Ozawa expressing his intention to stay on, open calls within the party for him to step down have begun. Public sentiment expressed in the latest survey certainly will accelerate talks on the question of whether Ozawa should resign.

How will DPJ executives act given the current situation? This is a test of their collective ability to handle a crisis.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 27, 2009)
(2009年3月27日01時32分  読売新聞)


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