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Japan ruling party headed for defeat: polls

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is headed for a rout at an August 30 general election expected to puncture its decades-long domination of politics, opinion polls showed on Monday.

world Updated: Jul 20, 2009 12:10 IST

Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is headed for a rout at an August 30 general election expected to puncture its decades-long domination of politics, opinion polls showed on Monday.

The poll results came a day before Prime Minister Taro Aso is due to dissolve the lower house of parliament for the snap election.

In a weekend telephone poll by the major daily Mainichi Shimbun, 56 per cent of respondents said they wanted the opposition Democratic Party of Japan to win. In contrast, 23 per cent favoured the LDP. The result was based on the opinions of 1,045 people.

“It is evident that the Democratic Party has been gaining momentum after its big win in the Tokyo municipal assembly election,” Mainichi said, referring to a July 12 municipal poll seen as a bellwether for the party.

In another poll by the influential daily Asahi Shimbun, 49 per cent of respondents said they wanted a new government led by the Democratic Party while 22 per cent wanted the LDP-led coalition to retain power.

“A tendency towards a change of power is gaining strength,” Asahi said. Its telephone poll was based on 1,064 respondents.
The LDP, conservative despite its name, has ruled continuously since its foundation in 1955, barring one 10-month stretch. It however already lost to the Democratic Party in a 2007 upper house election.

Aso, a 68-year-old former diamond trader and one-time Olympic marksman, took office in September with a mission to revive the LDP ahead of a general election he was obliged to call by this September. He is Japan’s third premier since the popular Junichiro Koizumi stepped down in 2006.

But his government’s approval rating has steadily dropped as the gaffe-prone Aso has been criticised by the opposition for policy flip-flops and wasteful economic stimulus measures aimed at wooing voters.