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32% say Abe suitable for LDP president, 29% pick Ishiba: Mainichi poll

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, and former LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba. (Mainichi)

TOKYO -- Some 32 percent of respondents to a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll conducted this weekend said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is suitable to serve as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), ranking slightly above rival Shigeru Ishiba at 29 percent.

Another 28 percent of respondents answered that neither of them is fit to serve as the leader of the governing party, a post that carries with it the position of prime minister as the party has a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.

The survey was conducted prior to the Sept. 7 start of campaigning for the Sept. 20 LDP presidential election, which is likely to be a two-man race between Abe and Ishiba, both of whom formerly served as secretary-general of the LDP.

Of those who support the LDP, 65 percent answered in the poll that they favor Abe, far above the 18 percent who selected Ishiba. Twelve percent of LDP backers said neither of them is suitable for the role.

Among those who support no particular political party, 32 percent said Ishiba is a better choice to head the LDP, as compared with 19 percent who think Abe is the more suitable candidate. However, the largest ratio -- 42 percent -- of those without any party affiliation said they do not want Abe or Ishiba to lead the ruling party.

Of all the respondents, 37 percent said they support the Abe Cabinet, the same figure as in a previous survey conducted in July. The Cabinet disapproval rating fell to 41 percent, down 3 points from the previous poll. Nearly half, or 49 percent, of the respondents with no party affiliation disapprove the Abe Cabinet, while the approval rating came to only 19 percent.

Of all the respondents, only 20 percent expressed support for Abe's plan for the LDP to submit its proposal to revise the postwar Constitution to the Diet during the extraordinary Diet session this autumn, well below the 38 percent who disagreed with the prime minister's plan. Another 33 percent said they are unsure.

When asked what kind of policies respondents want the next prime minister to implement, the largest ratio, at 23 percent, cited pension and medical services. This was followed by 15 percent who cited economic stimulus measures, 13 percent who wanted to see a consumption tax hike and rehabilitation of state finances, and 12 percent who said they would like to see more support for childrearing and education. Only 4 percent cited revisions to the supreme law.

The approval rating for the LDP came to 33 percent, while the figure for one opposition party the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan came in at only 9 percent. Those for the LDP's coalition partner Komeito and the opposition Japanese Communist Party both stood at 3 percent. The support ratings for Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), the Social Democratic Party, the Democratic Party for the People and the Liberal Party all stood at 1 percent.

For the opinion poll, the Mainichi Shimbun phoned landline and mobile phone numbers across the country selected at random on Sept. 1 and 2, excluding those in evacuation zones affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Responses were received from 524 people in 847 households with members aged 18 or older. The response rate was 84 percent.

(Japanese original by Yuri Hirabayashi, Tokyo Poll Office)

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