Japan Restoration Party gains support; voters split over merger

November 19, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

More voters chose the Japan Restoration Party over the ruling Democratic Party of Japan as the party they want to see gain seats in the Dec. 16 Lower House election, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

The party, formed by popular Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and now merged with former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s Sunrise Party, trails only the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party in this regard.

But in terms of gaining actual votes on Dec. 16, the Japan Restoration Party has much to do to achieve its goal of becoming a formidable “third political force” that can challenge the DPJ and the LDP, according to the nationwide telephone survey conducted on Nov. 17-18.

Pollsters read the names of political parties and asked voters to pick the one they wanted to see gain more seats in the election.

Twenty-three percent chose the LDP, 16 percent picked the Japan Restoration Party, and 15 percent sided with the DPJ.

However, voters did not necessarily choose the same party when asked which party they would vote for in the proportional representation portion if the Lower House election were to be held now.

Only 6 percent said they would vote for the Japan Restoration Party, up from 4 percent in the previous survey on Nov. 15-16.

The LDP and the DPJ were selected by 22 percent and 15 percent, respectively, almost unchanged from 23 percent and 16 percent in the previous survey. The figures were also nearly the same as the percentages for which party the voters want to see gain seats in the Dec. 16 election.

Still, the Japan Restoration Party has emerged ahead of other small parties in terms of support. Only 4 percent said they would vote for New Komeito, an ally of the LDP, compared with 3 percent in the previous survey.

The largest group of respondents--46 percent--either said they do not know which party to vote for or did not respond to the question. These unaffiliated voters could hold the key to the election, and so far they appear more attracted to the Japan Restoration Party than the two main parties.

Fourteen percent of unaffiliated voters said they want the Japan Restoration Party to increase the number of its seats in the election, far more than 10 percent who picked the LDP and 8 percent who chose the DPJ.

The Osaka-based party also seems to be having an impact on supporters of the two main parties. Twelve percent of those who said they would vote for the DPJ in the proportional representation portion, as well as 6 percent of those who would vote for the LDP, said they want to see the Japan Restoration Party increase its strength in the Diet.

However, the respondents were split on the merger agreement between the Japan Restoration Party and the Sunrise Party announced on Nov. 17, a day after the Lower House was dissolved.

Forty-two percent approve the merger idea, while 39 percent said they do not.

One percent of the respondents said they would vote for the Sunrise Party in the proportional representation portion if the Lower House election were held now, compared with 2 percent in the previous survey. Four percent said they want the party to increase the number of seats in the upcoming election.

The LDP’s support rate was unchanged at 16 percent, while the support for the DPJ was 14 percent, up from 13 percent in the previous survey.

The Japan Restoration Party’s support rate was 4 percent, compared with the previous 3 percent, while support for the Sunrise Party was unchanged at 1 percent.

Voters were given three choices on the type of administration they want to see formed after the Lower House election.

Thirty-four percent picked “a government led by a party in the third political force,” followed by 32 percent for an LDP-led government and 18 percent for a DPJ-led government.

The respondents appeared to have different ideas about what constitutes “a government led by a party in the third political force.” Some supporters of New Komeito and the Japanese Communist Party chose this option, apparently expecting them to be part of a ruling coalition.

Voters were also asked to choose from four options about the importance of policy agreements when parties in the third political force form alliances. Thirty-six percent said agreement is “very important,” up from 29 percent in an Asahi Shimbun survey on Nov. 10-11.

The support rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda edged up from 19 percent in the previous survey to 22 percent, while the disapproval rate fell from 63 percent to 57 percent.

Voters were asked to choose from four options to show how much interest they have in the upcoming election.

Thirty-nine percent said they are “interested very much,” compared with 49 percent who said the same thing immediately after the Lower House was dissolved for a snap election in 2009.

The Asahi Shimbun contacted 1,931 eligible voters for the survey and received valid responses from 1,134, or 59 percent.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, left, new leader of the Japan Restoration Party, and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, his deputy, at a news conference in Osaka on Nov. 17 (Shinnosuke Ito)

Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, left, new leader of the Japan Restoration Party, and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, his deputy, at a news conference in Osaka on Nov. 17 (Shinnosuke Ito)

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  • Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, left, new leader of the Japan Restoration Party, and Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, his deputy, at a news conference in Osaka on Nov. 17 (Shinnosuke Ito)
  • The Asahi Shimbun

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