65 per cent favour future change of Japan's govt

JAPAN - Sixty-five per cent of respondents to a nationwide survey think the reins of government should change hands again in the future, far surpassing the 33 per cent who did not think so.

According to a survey jointly conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun and Waseda University from late January to late February, 65 per cent of respondents answered yes to "do you think a change of government should take place in the future?" Two per cent chose "no answer."

The poll was conducted by mailing questionnaires to 3,000 randomly selected eligible voters in 250 locations nationwide. Sixty-seven per cent, or 1,997 people, gave valid responses.

The Liberal Democratic Party won the 2012 House of Representatives election and the 2013 House of Councillors election in a landslide victory, making a situation of being one strong party among many weak parties. However, the survey revealed that many voters favour a situation where a change of government is possible.

Nearly 50 per cent of supporters of the ruling LDP and its coalition partner New Komeito, as well as more than 90 per cent of Democratic Party of Japan supporters, favoured the possibility of change.

About 80 per cent of the supporters of Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party) and 80 per cent of those with no specific party affiliations supported a possible change in administration.

More than half the respondents favoured a system with two major parties, as 56 per cent of respondents chose "two major parties with several minor parties" as the most desirable situation.

Asked if the current opposition parties should unite to create a major force to counter the LDP, 53 per cent said yes, outnumbering the 44 per cent who said no.

The survey also evaluated sentiment toward seven political parties with at least 10 Diet seats each. Respondents were asked to rate the parties on a scale of 1 to 5, awarding 5 to parties they like, 1 for parties they dislike and 3 for those they neither like or dislike. Of the seven, the LDP received an average rating of 3.3 and was the only party to top 3 among all respondents.

The surveyed voters were further asked to evaluate seven cabinets from the past 10 years, excluding the current second Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, on an 11-point scale from 0 to 10.

The 2001-06 cabinet led by Junichiro Koizumi topped the list with an average rating of 6.5 points. The first Abe Cabinet for 2006-07 ranked second with 4.5 points, while the 2009-10 cabinet of Yukio Hatoyama was at the bottom with 2.4 points.

As for issues that should be discussed nationwide, the pension system topped the list at 70 per cent, followed by the consumption tax hike and countermeasures to the persistently low birthrate at 41 per cent each. Multiple answers were allowed.