ASAHI POLL: Japan Restoration Party makes gains at expense of ruling party

November 26, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

The newly formed Japan Restoration Party is closing in on the ruling Democratic Party of Japan ahead of next month's Lower House election, suggesting it is becoming a viable third political force, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.

The nationwide telephone survey, conducted Nov. 24-25, found 9 percent of eligible voters would cast ballots for the Japan Restoration Party in the proportional representation segment if an election were held now, up from 6 percent in a survey carried out Nov. 17-18.

Support for the DPJ stood at 13 percent, down from 15 percent in the earlier survey. An additional 1 percent in the Nov. 17-18 survey said they would have voted for the Sunrise Party, which merged with the Japan Restoration Party.

However, both parties continue to trail the Liberal Democratic Party, Japan's main opposition group, which the survey showed is leading at 23 percent, compared with 22 percent in the earlier poll.

The Asahi Shimbun contacted 1,861 voters, 55 percent of whom gave valid responses.

The Japan Restoration Party, founded by the popular mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, has been picking up support from unaffiliated voters, 8 percent of whom said they would vote for the party in the proportional representation section of the Lower House election, up from 5 percent in the earlier survey.

Unaffiliated voters have been abandoning the DPJ, whose support fell from 6 percent to 4 percent. Unaffiliated support for the LDP was up, from 12 percent to 13 percent.

Separately, the canvassers asked voters which party they hoped would gain more seats in the election. They read out a list of names of political parties.

Twenty-two percent of respondents chose the Japan Restoration Party, up from the combined 20 percent who selected either it or the Sunrise Party in the previous survey.

Twenty-five percent picked the LDP, up from 23 percent but only slightly ahead of the Japan Restoration Party. Fourteen percent selected the DPJ, compared with 15 percent in the earlier survey.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of voters said they approved of the merger between the Japan Restoration Party and the Sunrise Party, although 47 percent said they disapproved.

In the previous survey, 42 percent had said they approved of the merger, while 39 percent disagreed.

Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who founded the Sunrise Party, now leads the Japan Restoration Party.

The survey recorded plummeting support for the Noda Cabinet, whose approval rating stood at 18 percent, down from 22 percent in the earlier survey. Disapproval of the Cabinet rose from 57 percent to 63 percent.

On specific policy issues, 50 percent of voters said they oppose nuclear energy, while 34 percent said they support it.

Fifty-two percent said they oppose the planned rise in the consumption tax rate, which is expected to double from the current 5 percent to 10 percent by October 2015, although 39 percent said they approve of the increase.

The survey found support for Japan's potential membership of the planned Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade zone, with 41 percent approving and 33 percent opposing it.

The LDP, which pushed nuclear power while in office, has called for Japan to continue relying on it for electricity generation, despite the disaster last year at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Thirty-four percent of pro-nuclear voters said they would vote for the LDP in the proportional representation portion if the Lower House election were held now, higher than the 23 percent of all voters who said they would do so.

The DPJ had consumption tax hike legislation enacted with support from the LDP and New Komeito, another opposition party.

Of voters who approved of the tax hike, 30 percent said they would vote for the LDP and 20 percent for the DPJ. Both figures are higher than 23 percent and 13 percent of all voters who said they would do so.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said he wants Japan to join talks on TPP membership, but the LDP opposes such talks unless the nation is granted protection from complete tariff elimination.

Sixteen percent of pro-TPP voters said they would vote for the DPJ, while 30 percent of anti-TPP voters said they would vote for the LDP.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Voters in Tsu, in the western prefecture of Mie, listen to a speech by a candidate for the Lower House election on Nov. 25. (The Asahi Shimbun)

Voters in Tsu, in the western prefecture of Mie, listen to a speech by a candidate for the Lower House election on Nov. 25. (The Asahi Shimbun)

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  • Voters in Tsu, in the western prefecture of Mie, listen to a speech by a candidate for the Lower House election on Nov. 25. (The Asahi Shimbun)
  • The Asahi Shimbun

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