Support for Japan govt hovers below 20 pct - poll

TOKYO Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:39pm IST

TOKYO Jan 11 (Reuters) - Support for Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso's cabinet is hovering below 20 percent, a nationwide poll showed on Sunday, as the premier struggles to get measures to help the economy past a divided parliament before calling elections his party looks set to lose.

Kyodo News said the approval rating for the cabinet had fallen to 19.2 percent in a telephone survey it conducted this weekend, down 6.3 percentage points from December, while the disapproval rating came in at 70.2 percent, up 8.9 points from last month.

Saddled with a deepening recession and plagued by an emboldened opposition that already controls the upper house of parliament, Aso appears to be leading the long-ruling Liberal Democrat Party to defeat in lower house elections due this year. [ID:nT364945]

Kyodo reported that 46.4 percent of respondents said they would prefer Ichiro Ozawa, head of the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan, as prime minister, more than double the 22.1 percent who backed Aso for the job.

In addition, 51.4 percent said they would prefer a government led by the DPJ, compared with only 30.5 percent who wanted Aso's LDP.

Aso has effectively ruled out calling an election until parliament passes a supplementary budget for the year to the end of March and the full budget for fiscal 2009/10.

The government hopes to get lower house approval as early as Tuesday for the extra budget, which includes funding for 2 trillion yen ($22 billion) in payouts to individuals that the opposition says is pork-barrel spending aimed at the election.

Kyodo reported that 70.5 percent of respondents opposed the payout plan, up 12.4 points, while only 23.7 percent supported it, down 7.7 points.

Many respondents said the money should instead be used for pensions, medical services and other social security spending, Kyodo added. ($1=90.35 Yen) (Reporting by Hugh Lawson, Editing by Dean Yates)