Support for Japan PM Sinks Ahead of Election

TOKYO ~ Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso’s public approval rating has tumbled to just 16 percent as support for the opposition grows ahead of a general election, a poll showed on Thursday.

Public support for the Aso cabinet fell by nearly eight percentage points from last month, the Jiji Press news agency said.

It is the lowest reading for a Jiji poll since Aso came to power in late September, although other surveys in early 2009 found even lower support.

On Thursday Aso faced signs of a brewing cabinet revolt as lawmakers demanded the ruling party meet to decide his fate ahead of the election.

The 68-year-old premier, whose party suffered a heavy defeat in a Tokyo city election at the weekend, announced on Monday that he would dissolve parliament next week for a national vote on August 30.

Analysts say his party risks being swept from power after half a century of almost unbroken rule as voters turn to the opposition amid anger over his gaffes, handling of the economy and policy flip-flops.

The Jiji poll found support for Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party fell three points to 15 percent, while the approval rating for the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan rose three points to nearly 19 percent.

The telephone survey of 2,000 adults was conducted over four days to Sunday.

A separate telephone poll by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily on Monday and Tuesday found public support for the Aso government at 19 percent.

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