World / Asia-Pacific

Japanese voters frustrated over political turmoil

By ZHANG YUNBI (China Daily) Updated: 2012-11-27 02:54

Japanese dismay at domestic political turmoil and gloomy economic prospects were two of the top issues in the country's latest public opinion polls, which outline the landscape leading up to Japan's election next month.

Experts said the winner of the election will face key economic issues including tax hike bills and a ban on nuclear power. Japanese politicians are also facing a serious test over their flashy campaign promises with less than three weeks remaining from the start of the Dec 16 vote.

After 10 days of reshuffling that started with the lower house's dissolution on Nov 16, the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party is the favorite to win the election.

In addition to a series of defections by its members, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan was said to be suffering from shrinking public confidence. Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun said 25 percent of the Japanese public voiced confidence in the LDP, while the ruling DPJ received just 10 percent.

During another public opinion poll by Asahi Shimbun newspaper, only 13 percent of the Japanese public voiced support for the ruling DPJ.

After the ruling party's poor performance and the chaotic shuffling of the frontrunners for the election, Japanese swing voters remain undecided, according to poll figures.

Yomiuri said around 53 percent of the people surveyed said they "have not determined whom to vote for". In a poll for the last election three year ago, it was only 39 percent.

Asahi's public opinion survey of major domestic economic issues showed that 50 percent of interviewees oppose the utilization of nuclear power, which has been a hot-button issue since the nuclear meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Fifty-two percent of the Japanese public also said "no" to the consumption tax hike bill, which Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has supported during his campaign.

Former prime minister Shinzo Abe, the president of LDP, is the favorite in the election. The future of his new cabinet will depend on the new government's performance in boosting the domestic economy, said Li Wei, director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The Japanese economy is suffering from major structural problems, and the rumbling economic downturn, in addition to the country's aging population, will be a huge test for the winner who takes the top seat."

Meanwhile, in comparison with the two traditional parties, the "third force", mainly comprised of radical young parties, continued to gain momentum in the past week, including the Japan Restoration Party, the highest-profile symbol of the third force.

After finishing a stunning merger with ex-Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara's Party of Sun more than a week ago, the Japan Restoration Party has witnessed a surge in support, according to figures released by leading Japanese newspapers and news agencies.

"The Japan Restoration Party is keen to become 'the second force' of Japanese politics," said Feng Wei, an expert on Japanese studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

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