LDP still Japan's most favoured political party

Updated: 2013-06-13 10:28

(The Yomiuri Shimbun)

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The Liberal Democratic Party retained a huge lead in voters’ party preference in the upcoming House of Councillors election, while Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) saw a continued decline in popularity, according to the latest Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Ishin no Kai’s setback is attributable to the controversial statement made by its coleader, Toru Hashimoto, regarding the so-called comfort women used by Japanese soldiers, observers said.

A mere 5 per cent of respondents answered that they would vote for Ishin no Kai when asked over the phone which party they planned to choose in the upper house proportional representation poll.

This represented a decline from the 8 per cent recorded in the previous survey of May 10-12.

Ishin no Kai’s standing dropped to third in a tie with New Komeito, outstripped by the LDP at 44 per cent, down from 47 per cent, and the Democratic Party of Japan, unchanged at 7 per cent.

The latest survey illustrates the continued retreat of public support for Ishin no Kai ahead of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election to be held June 23, which some observers say is a prelude to the upper house poll in July.

In a similar survey taken in January, Ishin no Kai was selected by 16 per cent of respondents, the second-biggest following 37 per cent marked by the LDP.

The party retained the second position until the May survey, but the downtrend of voter support has continued since.

The latest decline came after Hashimoto made the controversial statement on comfort women in mid-May. Forty-three per cent of respondents said their perception of the party “took a turn for the worse” in the wake of his statement, according to the survey.

When asked which policy issue they would watch when deciding what party to vote for in the upper house election, “business and employment” was picked by 86 per cent, “social security” by 84 per cent and “reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake” by 79 per cent. Multiple answers were permitted on this question.

Cabinet support rate high at 67%

The approval rating of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet fell by 5 percentage points to 67 per cent, but still surpassed the 65 per cent recorded immediately after the inauguration of the Abe administration in December.

The disapproval rating climbed four points to 24 per cent.

The Cabinet’s economic policy was “appreciated” by 59 per cent, compared with the 26 per cent who answered negatively. As many as 75 per cent said economic recovery “can’t be felt yet”.

As for the constitutional requirement stipulated in Article 96 for initiating amendments to the national charter, 34 per cent selected an answer in favour of lowering the two-thirds majority of each chamber of the Diet required to a simple majority. The opposite answer was chosen by 51 per cent.

Fifty-eight per cent responded that the bill calling for eliminating one seat in each of five single-seat constituencies without adding seats should be passed through the current Diet session to correct the value of one vote in the House of Representatives elections in single-seat constituencies.

In regard to a drastic reform of the electoral system, 65 per cent said that it “should be studied” by a third-party organisation including experts.

Seventy per cent answered that the upper house election system should be reexamined simultaneously with a sweeping overhaul of the lower house election system.

The three-day telephone-based survey was conducted nationwide from Saturday using computer-generated numbers in the random-digit dialing method.

Of 1,701 households found to have eligible voters, 998 voters, or 59 per cent, responded.

Ishin no Kai losing home support

The survey also revealed a decline in support for Ishin no Kai in the Kinki region--which includes Hashimoto’s home turf--and among female voters.

When asked which party they would vote for in the July election, only 13 per cent of respondents in Kinki chose Ishin no Kai.

Although the party earned the second-highest support after the LDP’s 47 per cent, Ishin no Kai’s latest figure was down four percentage points from the 17 per cent it garnered in a survey last month.

Support for Ishin no Kai also declined in Tokyo, a stronghold of Shintaro Ishihara, coleader of the party and former Tokyo governor.

With the approach of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly election, only 5 per cent of people asked in Tokyo said they would vote for Ishin no Kai, down from 8 per cent in May.

The decline in support for Ishin no Kai among women was considerable.

In May’s survey, the party received almost identical support from men and women, with 8 per cent and 7 per cent, respectively, saying they would vote for the party. However, in the latest poll, the male support rate remained steady at 8 per cent, but only 2 per cent of women said they would vote for the party.

“Our party has lost many women’s votes because of Mr Hashimoto’s recent remarks” on so-called comfort women, a senior Ishin no Kai member said.

In the upper house election, 48 seats will be contested in the proportional representation bloc.

Based on the latest survey results, The Yomiuri Shimbun calculated the number of seats each party will likely win in next month’s election, without any reference to voting trends for each party in previous upper house races.

According to the calculations, Ishin no Kai is predicted to win three seats, down from 10 seats estimated following the January poll.

The DPJ is expected to win five seats, unchanged from January, while Your Party may get two seats, down from four.

The calculations had better news for the LDP, which is now likely to pick up 32 seats, an increase from 25 in January.