TOKYO -- Public support for Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso has plunged substantially following a series of his gaffes and frustration over his handling of the sluggish economy, a newspaper survey said Monday.
Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso (R) jokes with Peru's President Alan Garcia during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Lima November 23, 2008. Public support for Aso has plunged substantially following a series of his gaffes and frustration over his handling of the sluggish economy, a newspaper survey said Monday. [Agencies]
The survey by top business daily Nikkei showed his level of support plunging to 31 percent, from 48 percent during the previous survey in October.
About 66 percent of respondents said they did not approve Aso's economic stimulus package, which includes 2 trillion yen ($21 billion) in cash benefits to every household, the survey by the Nikkei, Japan's top business daily, said.
Aso is struggling to steer the hobbled economy, the world's second largest, amid a sharp pullback in corporate investment and slumping demand at home and abroad that has set off a slew of corporate bankruptcies and job losses.
Some 42 percent of respondents said Aso lacked leadership. The disapproval rating for his Cabinet jumped to 62 percent from 43 percent in a previous survey in October, the poll showed.
Aso took office only in September, but his popularity is going downhill fast. The Nikkei survey said a series of his gaffes also precipitated a fall in public support.
Aso apologized to the public last week over his remark criticizing the elderly as a tax burden for racking up medical expenses.
He has already had to apologize for joking about people with Alzheimer's disease, for saying the ideal country would be one that attracts "the richest Jewish people," and for comparing the opposition Democratic Party of Japan to the Nazis.
The Nikkei survey was conducted by telephone interviews nationwide in late November with 1,559 households. The daily said 60.2 percent of them responded. The paper gave no margin of error, but a survey of that size would generally have a margin of plus or minus three percentage points.