More than one-third of voters would back a coalition government of the nation’s two largest parties, but most voters appear disappointed with all parties on the national level, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
The big loser in public opinion in the current political climate is the administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, according to the survey. Rumors are swirling that a Lower House election could be called in autumn.
Asked about the preferred makeup of the new administration after such an election, 36 percent of respondents cited a government led by the DPJ and the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party.
Specifically, 51 percent of DPJ supporters and 34 percent of the LDP supporters said they would back such an administration.
The number was followed by 25 percent who would support an administration led by parties other than the DPJ and LDP, while 17 percent would endorse an administration headed by the LDP.
Only 7 percent said they would back a government led by the DPJ, according to the nationwide telephone survey conducted on July 7-8.
The approval rating for the Noda Cabinet was 25 percent, down from 27 percent in the survey held on June 26-27. The Cabinet disapproval rating edged up to 58 percent from 56 percent.
Public opinion is divided over the timing of the Lower House election, which must be held by autumn 2013. Forty-three percent said the election “should be held soon,” while 44 percent replied otherwise.
Asked which party they would vote for in the proportional-representation system if the Lower House election were held now, 14 percent picked the DPJ, down from 19 percent, while 22 percent chose the LDP, unchanged from the previous survey.
The percentage of respondents who replied either they “don’t want to answer” or “don’t know” stood at a collective 47 percent, up from 44 percent and marking the highest ratio for this category of voters since the Upper House election in July 2010.
Coupled with the fact that 63 percent of respondents consider themselves unaffiliated, the survey shows that voters are at a loss as to which party they should support.
Ichiro Ozawa, the former DPJ president who recently bolted from the ruling party, did not offer voters much hope. Only 14 percent of respondents have high expectations for Ozawa’s new party, while 81 percent replied they held little or no expectations.
However, the survey found that 52 percent of voters want Osaka Ishin no Kai, a regional party headed by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, to win enough seats in the next Lower House election to wield influence in the Diet, compared with 36 percent who do not.
When the DPJ came into power after the 2009 Lower House election, expectations arose that a two-party system would develop in Japan.
But to pass legislation to double the consumption tax rate to 10 percent by October 2015, Noda sought the cooperation of the LDP and New Komeito to bypass opposition from within the DPJ.
The survey found that 48 percent of voters viewed the tripartite cooperation over policy issues in a positive light, while 32 percent replied in the negative.
Sixty-three percent of DPJ supporters and 55 percent of LDP supporters approved of such cooperation.
On the consumption tax hike itself, the survey showed that the gap between proponents and opponents is closing.
Those who supported the tax increase came to 42 percent, up from 39 percent, while those opposed was 49 percent, down from 52 percent, according to the survey.
Respondents were also divided over the resumption of reactor operations at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture early this month. Forty-one percent supported the decision to restart the reactors, while 42 percent were against it.
In the previous survey, 37 percent were in favor of the restarts and 46 percent were opposed.
Regarding the other nuclear plants, 35 percent backed a resumption of operations while 49 percent said the reactors should remain offline.
The Cabinet has come up with three options on the ratio of nuclear power for the nation’s energy output in 2030. According to the survey, 42 percent of respondents endorsed “zero” nuclear power, 29 percent favored “15 percent,” and 15 percent backed “20-25 percent.”
Before the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant last year, nuclear power accounted for nearly 30 percent of the nation’s electricity output.
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