Support for Japan PM rises to 30 pct - poll

  • World
  • Monday, 07 Jul 2008

MYT 2:31:49 PM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Support for Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda rose to 30.4 percent in an opinion poll, but expectations of his premiership remained low as he welcomed the leaders of the Group of Eight wealthy nations for an annual summit, broadcaster TBS said on Monday.

Support in the survey carried out at the weekend was up five percentage points on the previous poll last month, the broadcaster said.

Reporters gather under a monitor reporting a joint news conference of the U.S. President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit media centre in Rusutsu town on Japan's northern island of Hokkaido July 6, 2008. (REUTERS/Issei Kato)

But more than 70 percent of respondents said they expected little from Fukuda in terms of leadership on climate change, one of the major themes of the summit being held on the northern island of Hokkaido this week.

Fukuda's struggle to pass laws in the face of obstruction by the opposition-dominated upper house of parliament sent his support rates reeling to around 20 percent earlier this year, though they have recovered slightly in recent weeks.

He need not call an election until late next year, but the political deadlock has sparked talk that he might go to the polls earlier, or that his party might replace him in a bid to restore its popularity after the summit is over.

About 72 percent of respondents to Monday's poll said they did not have high expectations of Fukuda's leadership on climate change.

Almost three quarters said they did not take a positive view of his attitude towards the United States beginning the process of taking North Korea off a list of nations Washington sees as sponsors of terrorism.

The United States started the process in response to Pyongyang's providing a long-awaited report on its nuclear programmes, possibly a step on the road-map towards nuclear disarmament.

The Japanese government has not directly criticised the U.S. move, although it upset some in Japan, where resentment runs deep over Japanese kidnapped by Pyongyang's agents in the 1970s and 1980s. U.S. President George W. Bush has repeatedly said he will never forget the Japanese abductees.

Support for Fukuda's main ruling Liberal Democratic Party was at 26.9 percent in the TBS poll, while the main opposition Democratic Party was behind at 22.3 percent, the broadcaster said on its Web site.

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