The ruling party’s prefectural chapters might not praise Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, but they appear overwhelmingly in favor of the incumbent in the Democratic Party of Japan’s presidential election, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.
Noda also has the support of influential Diet members, making his re-election appear certain in the DPJ poll on Sept. 21.
The Asahi Shimbun conducted the survey of top officials at the party’s 47 prefectural chapters from Sept. 11 to 13. Of the 23 chapter leaders who specified their preferred candidate in the DPJ race, 21 named Noda.
The votes from local assembly members of the DPJ account for a little more than 10 percent of the total in the party’s presidential election.
The two chapters that did not pick Noda named candidates from their prefectures. The Aichi prefectural chapter supported Hirotaka Akamatsu, a former farm minister, while the Yamagata chapter said it backs Michihiko Kano, another former farm minister.
No chapter expressed support for Kazuhiro Haraguchi, a former internal affairs minister, the other candidate in the race.
Although Noda was the name most mentioned, few chapters cited his accomplishments or leadership abilities as the reason for their support.
Asked why it chose Noda, the Hyogo chapter said, “The prime minister should not be replaced so many times.”
Nine other chapters expressed similar views.
The Hokkaido chapter leader said of Noda: “He is greatly responsible for causing defections through his hasty and sloppy management of the party.”
However, such criticism did not translate into support for the three other candidates in the DPJ election.
In winning the cooperation of Sadakazu Tanigaki, leader of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, for a consumption tax hike, Noda agreed to dissolve the Lower House for a snap election "before long."
A majority of the 47 DPJ prefectural chapters said they want Noda to hold off on such action until next spring or later.
Twelve chapters said they hope the dissolution will occur after the Diet passes the budget bills for next fiscal year, which starts in April.
A Lower House election must be called before the lawmakers’ terms end in August next year. Fourteen prefectural chapters said they hope Noda will dissolve the Lower House shortly before that period.
Only seven chapters said “by year’s end.” One of them, the Kanagawa chapter, said, "Even if the dissolution is delayed, we do not believe support rates will rise."
The Kagoshima and other chapters said Noda should wait until the last minute because many of the DPJ’s campaign pledges have yet to be fulfilled three years after the party took power.
Another factor behind the calls for delaying the dissolution is that many politicians want to wait and see the moves of the Japan Restoration Party, the new national party led by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
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