Monday, October 03, 2011

The latest Kyodo poll numbers… an initial glance tell me perilously close to nothing.

But let us take a longer look anyway, shall we?

As has seemingly been the case with every prime minister since time began, or since Koizumi Jun’ichiro, the top line number of support for the Cabinet fell from its initial reading.

Numbers are percentages. The previous month’s readings are in [ ].

Do you support the Cabinet or not?

Support 54.6 [62.8]
Do Not Support 27.8 [18.1]
Don’t know/Don’t care 17.6 [18.1]

There is has been a slight drop (30.0 to 23.5) in the number of respondents who say they support the Cabinet because they trust the prime minister. By contrast, there has been a big rise in the number who say they support the Cabinet because they see no one else as appropriate as prime minister (32.2 to 47.5).

It is this latter number that Policy Research Council Chairman Maehara Seiji has to worry about if should he seek to challenge Prime Minister Noda Yoshihiko in the next Democratic Party of Japan leadership election, scheduled to be held next September. The basis of Maehara’s potential leadership run is his popularity with the public. The more Noda is accepted as the only real candidate for the job of prime minister, the harder it will be for Maehara to convince his peers that he is the leader the party needs to prevail in the next House of Representatives election.

This is an an aside, but Maehara also has to worry about being lulled into fealty to Noda through Noda’s expansion of the powers and influence of the position of Policy Research Chairman. Maehara has to keep reminding himself, as the months click by, “I am being bought off. I am being bought off…”

As to the all-important numbers of support for the parties, the numbers for the two main parties have not budged at all. There has been a slight tick upward in the number for the party of cynics and smartasses Your Party and for the Communists – but not so great as to say that voter dissatisfaction with the status quo is rising.

Which party do you support?

DPJ 27.1 [27.2]
LDP 23.2 [23.6]
Your Party 5.7 [4.9]
New Komeito 4.0 [3.5]
Communist 3.2 [2.2]
Socialist 0.9 [0.8]
PNP 0.4 [0.1]
Sunrise 0.2 [0.6]
Other 0.3 [0.1]
Support no party 33.8 [35.7]
Don't know/Don't care 1.2 [1.3]

As for the big news of the weekend (at least it was big news inside the confines of Nagata-cho) – that the Liberal Democratic Party’s factions, which had been rather dormant, rose up to lop off a few heads in party’s executive offices – it has scarcely entered the public’s consciousness:

LDP President Tanigaki Sadakazu retained Secretary-General Ishihara Nobuteru, but named Motegi Toshimitsu Chairman of the Policy Research Council and Shionoya Ryu Chairman of the General Council. Do you have any expectations of this new LDP party executive?

Have expectations 32.1
Have no expectations 60.6
Don’t know, Don’t care 7.3

Replacing the human quote machines Ishiba Shigeru and Koike Yuriko (to be fair, having the Iron Butterfly as the head of the General Council did not make much sense, considering the number of parties she has been in. But absent the ability of giving her a cabinet post, how else could Tanigaki put her in the spotlight?) is a risky move for Tanigaki, as he is cringeworthy when cornered by the cameras. Faction leaders Machimura, Koga and Nukaga could not be denied having their own representatives in the power positions, however.

Overall, Prime Minister Noda should be pleased with the results of the poll. The index of public testiness, the date at which the prime minister should dissolve the Diet and call an election, has receded into the haze of the distant future:

When do you think that the next dissolution of the Diet and House of Representatives election should take place?

This year 15.6
Next year 33.2
In 2013, when the term of the present Diet ends 46.6
Don’t Know, Don’t care 5.2

Later - I thought the questions about the supplementary budget and tax rises were idiotic, as they did not ask the respondents, "What would you do if you were in the prime minister's position? What mix of taxes, budget cuts and bond issuance would you propose?" Instead, the respondents were asked whether or not they "value" or "appreciate" (hyoka suru) the proposed third supplementary budget or the proposed tax rises.

Others thought these questions and their answers newsworthy.

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