Sunday, September 19, 2010

The New Numbers

As is its wont, Kyodo has a run a poll immediately after the reshuffle of the Kan Cabinet and the selection of a new core leadership group for the Democratic Party of Japan. The public relations effects of the election campaign with Ozawa Ichiro, Ozawa's crushing defeat in the September 14 election and the selection of a strong Cabinet packed with Kan allies in high positions seem to have filled the populace with the sense of confidence about the prime minister.

Cabinet support (September 9-10 results in parenthesis)

Support 64% (55%)
Do not support 21% (32%)

What is really exciting about these figures is not just the turnaround -- the support levels of the previous Cabinet having dipped down to 32% in mid-July -- but that the new support level is higher than the initial support level of the first Kan Cabinet, which was 62%. Not even Koizumi Jun'ichiro, who saw his support soar, plummet, then soar again, managed to surpass his initial support level.

Support for the DPJ has also risen again, reaching a new high for the year, with the support of other major centrist and rightist parties for the most part dwindling.

DPJ 40% (38%)
LDP 22% (24%)
Your Party 9% (11%)
New Komeito 5% (4%)
Communist 2% (3%)
SDP 2% (1%)
PNP lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)
Sunrise lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)
New Party Nippon lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)
New Renaissance lss thn 1% (lss thn 1%)

When you are being outgunned by the top party by nearly two-to-one, the chances of your calling for a dissolution of the Diet and a House of Representative election is likely to So I do not foresee the LDP or the Your Party to be making too much in the way of "We need an election!" speeches. Not at least until those support numbers start coming down.

As for what interests the populace, it remains the economy-the economy-the economy. When subjects were asked to pick the top two issues the new Cabinet should be focusing its energies upon, the answers were:

Economic and employment measures 55%

Administrative reform, particularly the clean-up of wasteful spending 39%

Fortify the social welfare system, including reform of the pension system 27%

Reform of the civil service system, including the banning of amakudari 15%

Fiscal restructuring 10%

Fundamental reform of the tax system 9%

"Politics and money," particularly the banning of corporate political donations 7%

Foreign policy and security issues 7%

Transfer of authority from bureaucrats to politicians 5%

Reform of the constitution 1.5%

Note the tiny number for foreign policy and national security. Even with the supposedly looming threats of a nuclear-armed North Korea and an aggressive Chinese assertions of authority in maritime areas near Japan, the foreign policy brief gets less than half the interest of banning amakudari practices. As for the postwar bugbear of Japan reforming its constitution to become a major player in world politico-security arena -- well, my friends, the numbers are just not there.

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