A recent survey of eligible voters by the Yomiuri Shinbun revealed that 89% of those surveyed "could not understand at all where the prime minister stood" regarding his political views. This is a whopping majority, even considering the rate at which the Cabinet's approval rating has been plummeting, down over 25% since Fukuda took over in September of last year.
While Prime Minister Fukuda's lackluster style does not hold a candle to the more high-profile and bold leadership of Junichiro Koizumi, his middle-of-the road political standing is even more unappealing to voters, especially in the face of scandals involving tax money and clashes over reform. It may be too much to expect Fukuda to be riding horses in Texas with US President George Bush, but a little charisma and a bolder leadership are necessary at a time when, internally, the country has a lot of issues on its hands.
The survey went on to reveal that 21.7% of respondents would prefer Shinzo Abe to take over again, even after his crash-and-burn year that ended with his resignation. What's more, over 30% either didn't respond or replied that they had no Diet member they would like to become prime minister. Will apathy become the ruling party?
It might be wise for voters to put a little more thought into what kind of person they want as prime minister. Although Japan's political system contains a lot of roadblocks that don't give citizens a lot of options, and voters cannot technically choose who lands the position, the survey does demonstrate fickleness of many whose preference wavers back and forth to whomever seems fit for the job at the time.
Written by Sarah Noorbakhsh
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