Support rate for Kan Cabinet is 15.9 percent: Genron NPO poll

December 28, 2010

The approval rating for Prime Minister Naoto Kan's Cabinet fell to a low of 15.9 percent as of the 100th day of its formation, in a Genron NPO survey released on Dec. 27. This is much lower than the 33.0 percent at the corresponding period of his predecessor Yukio Hatoyama.

The poll, covering about 500 academicians, journalists, business executives, bureaucrats and others, was conducted over two weeks in early December to see how Japanese voters evaluated the job performance of the Kan Cabinet on the 100th day of its formation. Survey sheets were either mailed or e-mailed to prospective respondents who are mostly supporters and participants of The Genron NPO.

The poll showed that a high 71.7 percent of respondents did not have any expectations on the Kan Cabinet's "future implementation of policies," as compared to a negligible 4.5 percent who are pinning expectations.

Disapproval ratings for the Kan Cabinet came up to 64.4 percent, compared with the approval rating of 15.9 percent. The figures compare to the approval rate of 33.0 percent and the disapproval rate of 41.4 percent for Yukio Hatoyama on the 100th day of its formation.

According to the poll, 58.5 percent of the respondents replied that the Kan Cabinet's job performance was "below expectations," while 34.4 percent said they had "no expectations right from the start."

Asked to cite up to three policy objectives that they had expected the Kan Cabinet to deliver at the time of its formation, "fiscal reconstruction" (34.6 percent) came in first, followed by "formulation of a mid- and long-term growth strategy to materialize a strong economy" (29.7 percent) and "establishment of a sustainable social security system" (25.4 percent).

The poll sought respondents' evaluation of the Kan Cabinet's attitude toward a total of 30 important policy matters, both domestic and foreign affairs. The poll found that negative evaluations overwhelmed positive ones in all 30 policy items. Particularly, more than 80 percent of the respondents gave a negative evaluation of how the Kan Cabinet's dealt with the relocation of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, as well as its handling of the Sept. 7 collisions between a Chinese trawler and Japanese patrol vessels off the Senkaku Islands.

Meanwhile, the policy items, which won more than 30 percent of the respondents' positive evaluation, were "the proposed participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) framework (41.7 percent), the reduction of the corporate tax (39.6 percent), and the promotion of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) / the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with diverse countries/areas (37.2 percent).

Other highlights from the poll:

-- 72.3 percent of the respondents think that the Kan Cabinet won't last till the expiration of the four-year tenure for the Lower House members due for the summer of 2013.
-- Views are divided on whether the Lower House should be resolved for a general election, with 44.7 percent favoring an early general election, 31.1 percent against it, and 18.3 percent undecided.
-- More than 60 percent of the respondents are disillusioned by the poor performance of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government, which won a landslide victory in the summer of 2009.
-- However, more than 50 percent no longer expect the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to return to power, with only 20 percent supporting the LDP's comeback as a government party.
-- 63.6 percent are expecting to see a major political realignment, compared to the 11.2 percent against it. Asked which policy agenda should be the axes for such an realignment, the majority of 24.6 percent cited "the roadmap for fiscal reconstruction," to be followed by "the basic direction of Japan's diplomatic policy, especially Japan-China relations and Japan-U.S. relations" (17.9 percent), "big government vs. small government" (14.0 percent) and "the basic stance on pension and other social security systems (13.2 percent).

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