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Majority not interested in who will replace DP leader Renho: Mainichi poll

Democratic Party leader Renho (Mainichi)

Over half the respondents in a Mainichi Shimbun poll said they are not interested in who will be elected to replace Renho, outgoing president of the largest opposition Democratic Party (DP).

Some 52 percent of the respondents in the survey conducted on Aug. 3 and 4 said they are not interested in the matter, well above the 39 percent who are interested.

Among DP supporters, nearly 80 percent are interested in who will be the next DP leader, but those backing other political parties and those who support no particular party are taking a cool view of the Sept. 1 DP presidential election, the results indicate.

It is believed that the public has little interest in the election partly because the structure of the fight has not been determined. Former Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara and former DP Secretary-General Yukio Edano have announced their intention to run in the race, but there are moves within the party to field another candidate.

In the leadership election, the issue of whether the party should promote or review its election cooperation with the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) will likely be a key point of contention.

Some 54 percent of the respondents in the latest survey say the DP does not have to cooperate with the JCP in Diet elections, as compared with 27 percent who said the DP should promote such cooperation. However, over 50 percent of the DP and JCP supporters, respectively, are in favor of election cooperation between the two parties.

The House of Representatives members' current four-year term ends in December 2018. Regarding the timing of the next lower house election, 29 percent said the poll should be called within this year, 27 percent replied that it should be held in the first half of next year and 23 percent responded it should be held in the latter half of next year.

Half of the pollees said they support visits by the prime minister and members of his Cabinet to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine, where Class-A war criminals are enshrined along with the war dead, while 32 percent voiced opposition to such visits. The figures closely resemble the outcome of a Mainichi survey in August 2015, in which 55 percent of the respondents said they supported such shrine visits while 31 percent expressed opposition to them.

Seiko Noda, newly appointed internal affairs and communications minister, who had visited the shrine while serving as a Cabinet minister in the past, said she will exercise caution in deciding whether to go to the shrine.

"It's a crucial period now for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), so I'd like to carefully consider the matter," Noda told a reporters at a news conference on Aug. 4.

The approval rating for the LDP came to 26 percent, the DP 7 percent, the LDP's junior ruling coalition partner Komeito 5 percent, the JCP 5 percent and Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) 3 percent. Forty-seven percent responded that they support no particular political party.

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