JIN-496 -- "Can't buy me love" by Taro Aso and the LDPs

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J@pan Inc Newsletter
The 'JIN' J@pan Inc Newsletter
A weekly opinion piece on social, economic and political trends
in Japan.
Issue No. 496 Wednesday January 14, 2009, Tokyo

What are you going to do when you have 2 trillion yen to hand out and
nobody wants it? Well, there are probably a good number of people who
would take it off your hands I would imagine, but maybe the majority
of people would think you're an idiot... or a saint even? A recent Asahi
Shimbun survey regarding the government's latest stimulus package
didn't go into detail as to whether the average person thought Prime
Minister Taro Aso was either of these two things. What it did ask was
whether voters believed the stimulus package would kick-start the
economy - to which 71 percent percent replied "no."

Pork-barrel politics is a favorite maneuver of the LDP but there are
only so many times that you can throw money out in the form of
stimulus packages before people start to grow weary of them. It has
been at least a couple years since any stimulus package was seen as
anything but an attempt to boost the sagging popularity of the ruling
party.

In the Asahi's survey, 63 percent of voters said they opposed the
handout program. 71 percent said that it would not be effective at all
while only 18 percent said it would actually help the economy.

And it seems that the stimulus package is unpopular not just among a
wide cross-section of voters but also among the LDP loyalists – 43
percent of LDP supporters surveyed said the handout program should be
dropped altogether.

Early last month, the approval rating of Aso's Cabinet fell to 19
percent from 22 percent. This was the lowest since Aso took office. As
mentioned in a previous JIN, Aso's approval rating fell to a level
lower than both Abe and Fukuda's when they left office. According to
the Asahi it now matches Fukuda's lowest rating while in office. But
it's not just Aso suffering in the popularity stakes. When asked which
party, they would support in a Lower House election, only 25 percent
of those surveyed chose the LDP. On the other hand 38 percent chose
opposition party Minshuto.

Aso's decisions on policy have largely been viewed as missteps by the
public, his fiscal 2009 budget, which aimed to stimulate the economy
rather than continue Koizumi's plans to rebuild, were met negatively.
Now, at a time when the public is looking to its leader to provide
some kind of answer to the dire state of the economy, Aso continues to
do little to impress.

Minshuto can smell blood too. Opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa and his
cohorts having been attacking the stimulus package as they attempt to
force Aso to call a snap election. There was talk of an election being
called in late October last year but following everything that
happened in the world economy it became impossible for that to happen.

It will now be even harder for Aso to call an election with the
approval ratings so low. As for the stimulus package, the government
will no doubt go ahead and spend the money but you have to wonder what
it is really going to do. Hopefully some businesses will benefit from
it -- the LDP certainly won't.

Michael Condon
Editor-in-chief

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------------------- ICA Event - Jan 15 --------------------

NEW YEAR'S 2009 NETWORKING MIXER:
Joint event with ACCJ ICT and B2B Committees

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
(RSVP Required)

Date: Thursday, Jan 15, 2009
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner & Open Bar Included
Cost: 6,000 yen (members), 7,000 yen (non-members)
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Start a Company in Japan

Entrepreneur's Handbook Seminar 14th of Feb, 2009

If you have been considering setting up your own company,
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Terrie Lloyd, founder of over 13 start-up companies in Japan,
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------------------- ICA Event-Feb 19 --------------------

Speaker: Martin Hoy, Senior Manager of Sales, EIRE Systems K.K.

Title: Successful IT Outsourcing

Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/
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