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2010年12月 8日 (水)

内閣支持率25% 「有言不実行」へのいらだちだ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Dec. 8, 2010)
Kan must change tack to regain public support
内閣支持率25% 「有言不実行」へのいらだちだ(12月7日付・読売社説)

The public approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has sunk rapidly to alarming levels.

The ebbing popular support apparently reflects the people's irritation over the Cabinet's failure to deal with domestic and diplomatic issues properly.

According to the latest Yomiuri Shimbun opinion survey, the approval rating has declined to 25 percent. In other words, only one out of four people support the Cabinet. The disapproval rating, on the other hand, has shot up to 65 percent.

The primary reason for nonsupport is "lack of leadership by the prime minister"--chosen by 36 percent of the respondents. The results raise a big question over whether the Cabinet will be able to deliver on its promise made six months ago at the time of its inauguration to become a "true-to-its-word cabinet."

Public discontent over the government's economic policy is deep-seated.

The Diet has passed the 4.8 trillion yen supplementary budget for the current fiscal year, which incorporates measures to deal with the strong yen and deflation. But a staggering 83 percent answered "no" in response to a question on whether the Cabinet "has dealt with the current economic situation appropriately."


Lack of leadership

Public dissatisfaction is not due to the sluggish economy alone. It reflects criticism of the government over its failure to come up with effective policies to tackle the dire fiscal condition and social security issues. Thus, the survey clearly showed the public wants the government to promptly carry out drastic measures on these issues.

Opinion is divided within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan over whether the country should take part in the multilateral negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement on free trade. But the survey showed a strong majority--60 percent--wanted the country to make a bid to join the TPP framework.

If Kan succeeds in unifying intraparty opinion in favor of participation in TPP negotiations based on the public will as shown in the survey, he will be able to halt the skid of his Cabinet's support rate.

His lack of leadership is viewed by the public as a reason that little progress has been made in addressing the political funding scandal involving former DPJ President Ichiro Ozawa. An overwhelming 86 percent of the respondents answered that the Cabinet "fails to deal with the matter appropriately."

An analysis of the results of surveys taken since the inception of the Cabinet in June shows that the approval rating moved upward when Kan took a clear stance to distance himself from Ozawa. Whether he can move ahead on the Ozawa issue could be the key to restoring the Cabinet's approval ratings.

Asked whether the issue of relocating the U.S. Marine Corps' Futenma Air Station in Okinawa Prefecture can move toward a solution under the Kan administration, a resounding 85 percent responded negatively. Kan and former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama bear heavy responsibility for having compounded the issue to the extent of the deadlock we face today.


Wrong choice

To help reconstruct diplomacy vis-a-vis China and Russia, it is urgent to bolster the Japan-U.S. alliance. Despite this, Kan is seeking the Social Democratic Party's cooperation in the Diet although the SDP opposes the Japan-U.S. agreement on Futenma relocation. It is really unreasonable for him to do so.

Asked which party they would vote for in the proportional representation bloc if a House of Representatives election were held now, 26 percent picked the Liberal Democratic Party, surpassing the 22 percent who chose the DPJ.

The two major parties last saw such a reversal in their relative popularity levels in a similar survey taken during the sunset days of the Hatoyama administration. The situation surrounding the Kan Cabinet has thus become similar to that of the previous administration.

Kan will face tough challenges such as budget compilation for fiscal 2011 and tax reform. How can he deal with them? His leadership is being put to the test in this regard.

Making steady efforts to resolve the issues one by one could be the only way to regain the people's confidence. Kan must recognize this anew in steering his administration.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 7, 2010)
(2010年12月7日01時23分  読売新聞)


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