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2010年5月11日 (火)

内閣支持率下落 首相は逆風に耐えられるか

buffet-バフィット→嵐、風に翻弄される (buffet-バフェイ→ ビュッフェと混同しない)、ややこしいですね。

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 11, 2010)
How much longer can Hatoyama hang on?
内閣支持率下落 首相は逆風に耐えられるか(5月10日付・読売社説)

Public support for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has been on a slippery slope downward.

Can Hatoyama implement policies while his administration is being constantly buffeted by unfavorable winds?

According to a Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey conducted over the weekend, the public approval rating for the Cabinet has plunged to 24 percent. This figure represents less than one-third of the 75 percent of respondents who backed the Cabinet in a similar survey taken in September, when the administration was inaugurated. The disapproval rate, on the other hand, has jumped to 67 percent.

As a reason for their disapproval, more than 50 percent of respondents chose, "The prime minister lacks leadership."

Hatoyama asserted last summer the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture "should be relocated at least to a site outside the prefecture." This fanned the expectations of residents in the prefecture. However, Hatoyama backpedaled on this assertion during his visit to the island last week, saying it was "not a campaign pledge" of his Democratic Party of Japan.

Hatoyama visited the prefecture despite there being no prospect of breaking the stalemate over the base relocation. His string of verbal blunders have left many voters' hopes for his government hanging by a thread.


Accountability vital

One in two respondents to the Yomiuri survey said Hatoyama should step down if the Futenma dispute is not resolved by the end of this month. Undoubtedly, this reflects that many people value result-based accountability--a quality Hatoyama must show as the nation's leader.

Along with the contradictions between his words and actions, the issue of political ethics also has haunted the prime minister and his party.

It is extraordinary that Hatoyama and DPJ Secretary General Ichiro Ozawa, who hold the top two posts of the ruling party, have been embroiled in political funding scandals.

The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution late last month decided Ozawa "merits indictment" in connection with his political fund management organization's alleged falsification of funds reports in violation of the Political Funds Control Law. Asked in the survey whether the civil judicial panel's judgment was "proper" and Ozawa "should resign as party secretary general," about 80 percent of respondents answered affirmatively to each question.

A similar inquest panel earlier judged the prosecutors' decision not to indict Hatoyama over a funding controversy was "appropriate." But many voters do not believe Hatoyama has fulfilled his accountability over this matter.


Restore public faith

The panel's attached opinion mentioned "it is unthinkable that Hatoyama knew nothing about money provided by his mother" and called into question whether "politicians can be allowed not to take responsibility if they claim they entrust everything to their secretaries."

These points are common sense to the general public. Hatoyama and Ozawa, as well as DPJ lawmakers, appear to be taking such criticism far too lightly.

After learning of the inquest panel's decision, Ozawa said he had done "nothing to be ashamed of." If this is indeed so, he has no reason to evade meeting the opposition parties' request to testify at the Diet as a sworn witness over the matter. He should meet this request without hesitation and prove his hands are clean.

Public support for the DPJ is mired at the 20 percent level. The number of voters who plan to vote for the DPJ in this summer's House of Councillors election has been dropping steadily.

As indicated in the Analects of Confucius, politics can never be conducted if the people lose faith in it. The government and the DPJ must take this teaching to heart.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 10, 2010)
(2010年5月10日01時24分  読売新聞)


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