The first opinion poll of the month comes from Mainichi (March 1-2), and what do we hear? Listen…
The Fukuda Cabinet’s support numbers fall to 30% (not support 51%) from 33% in January. However, the LDP is still ahead of the DPJ, 26% (-2 points) to 23% (-1 point). If you believe the Mainichi numbers, the LDP and New Kōmeitō should still beat the DPJ in a snap-election showdown. This, after the Aegis destroyer-fishing boat collision? Message to LDP: You’ll lose the Lower House supermajority. Message to DPJ: You’ll lose the Lower House election.
The public is split in half on Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba, 49% calling for his resignation and 47% wanting him to remain. Significantly though, only 4% demand his immediate resignation, while the remainder, 45%, want him to resign after he has taken care of the aftermath. Message to LDP: Keep Mr. Ishiba and let him go out on his own terms. Message to DPJ: Stop harassing Mr. Ishiba and go after the defense establishment.
On the gasoline taxes, 66% oppose the ten-year extension of the surcharge in the coalition bill while only 27% support it. 75% oppose the 59 trillion yen road construction plan against 19% support. But a whopping 78% support a compromise on an amendment of the LDP bill. Message to LDP: Cut a deal. Message to DPJ: Cut a deal.
Overall, it looks like political stalemate. The side which looks more reasonable “wins” the next Lower House election. I feel even more strongly that the LDP is trying to lure the DPJ into the “eternal opposition” rut in which the old Socialist Party got stuck. The Japanese Communist Party is trying to position itself as the “responsible” opposition party. Fascinating. I’ll try to elaborate on this tomorrow.