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2011年1月17日 (月)

支持率持ち直し 菅内閣は政策実現に全力を

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 17, 2011)
Kan must meet goals to build public trust
支持率持ち直し 菅内閣は政策実現に全力を(1月16日付・読売社説)

The approval rating for Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet has risen to 34 percent, according to a survey The Yomiuri Shimbun conducted in rapid response to Friday's reshuffle. The reshuffle, Kan's second, appeared to give a slight boost to the approval rating, which had dropped as low as 25 percent last month.

The improved figure apparently reflects the public's desire for the new administration to carry out significant policy measures.

The rise in the approval rating may be attributed to public hopes for the new lineup of ministers, whom the prime minister has dubbed "the strongest team," though the reshuffle was relatively minor.

Support for tax hike, TPP

The survey also found that about 60 percent of respondents gave positive answers when asked about their opinion of a possible hike in the consumption tax rate to sustain the social security system. The same number supported the idea of the nation's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade agreement among Asia-Pacific countries.

Taking into consideration what many of the public hope, the prime minister should take an assertive approach to resolving outstanding issues.

The same thing can be said regarding former Democratic Party of Japan President Ichiro Ozawa's alleged involvement in a money-and-politics scandal. Eighty-one percent of respondents said Ozawa should explain about it at the Diet.

Kan has already expressed his intention to urge Ozawa to resign as a lawmaker and leave the DPJ when a mandatory indictment is made against him. The survey found that Kan's position is supported by 72 percent of the public. If the prime minister can solve issues related to Ozawa, the public evaluation of the Kan Cabinet is bound to improve.

Meanwhile, nearly half of respondents did not back the move that attracted the most attention in the reshuffle, namely the appointment of former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kaoru Yosano as state minster in charge of economic and fiscal policy.

When he belonged to the Liberal Democratic Party and then to the Sunrise Party of Japan, Yosano was highly critical of the DPJ-led government. This fact has made the public unable to understand his appointment as a Cabinet member, and opposition to it is getting stronger not only within the DPJ but also in the LDP and the other opposition parties.

Yosano must deal with such doubts and criticism by showing good results. Whether he does so will surely have an impact on the fate of the Kan Cabinet.

The second reshuffle seems to have temporarily lifted the Kan Cabinet out of the public-opinion danger zone. However, the people's feelings toward it remain cold, especially when compared to how the Cabinet's approval rating jumped to 66 percent in a poll conducted immediately after the first reshuffle in September.

Will Kan be able to do it?

It is symbolic that 70 percent of respondents replied "no" to a question on whether the Cabinet will be able to achieve satisfactory results with its policy measures.

Kan has used flashy slogans, such as "walk the talk" and "employment first, employment second and employment third." But he lacked the ability to make his slogans come true. The prime minister got cold feet after more and more members of the DPJ expressed opposition to a consumption tax rate hike and participation in the TPP trade pact.

If he shows signs of backpedaling again, the public will lose all confidence in Kan for good. With this in mind, the prime minister should proactively tackle state affairs.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 16, 2011)
(2011年1月16日01時12分  読売新聞)


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