Survey Finds Opposition Parties Unable to Boost Support despite Ruling LDP Scandal

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Kenta Izumi, leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, speaks at a plenary session of the House of Representatives at the Diet on Dec. 13.

As Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet struggles with dismally low approval ratings, the opposition parties have not been able to parlay that into increased support.

In a Yomiuri Shimbun nationwide survey, those who say they supported the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan stood at 5%, virtually unchanged from a previous survey taken in November, while the Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party) saw a drop of two points to 5%.

Those numbers are in stark contrast to the 28% garnished by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in the poll taken from Friday to Sunday.

Although the opposition has stepped up its attacks over revelations of kickbacks from fundraising funds involving members of the LDP’s Abe faction, they have been unable to establish a clear focus for confronting the government and ruling coalition, and have fallen short as a conduit for conveying voter criticism.

“We are aware of growing expectations placed on us, but this will not be immediately reflected in our support ratings,” Kenta Izumi, leader of the CDPJ, told The Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday. “We need to deepen discussions with the other opposition parties.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun

On Dec. 13, in response to the LDP fundraising scandal, the CDPJ, Ishin, Japanese Communist Party and Democratic Party for the People banded together to submit a no-confidence motion against the Kishida Cabinet to the House of Representatives. But the bloc has not come up with an effective strategy on the issue and has failed to gain public support.

The support rate of Ishin reached 9% in the spring following strong results in the unified local elections, lifting it past the CDPJ. But it subsequently dropped back down, likely a result of misdeeds involving Ishin-linked members of local assemblies.

“We want to broaden our support by sincerely carrying out solid activities,” Ishin Secretary General Fumitake Fujita said Monday.

In the past, an LDP administration facing troubling times would provide a boost in support for the opposition.

In 1993, growing public dissatisfaction with the LDP over allegations of illicit donations and other issues led to the support rate of the now-defunct Japan New Party tripling from 3% in January to 9% in a July 31-Aug. 1 survey. The party played a central role in the subsequent formation of the government of former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa.

When the nation was rocked by a scandal over slipshod record-keeping in the pension system in 2007, the support rate for the main opposition party at the time, rose to 27% in an August survey, topping the 26% of the LDP.

A senior CDPJ member, commenting on current circumstances, said, “It is an alarming situation for Japanese politics as voters are being left with no choices.”