Monday, February 25, 2008

Fukuda falls, Masuzoe rises

Sankei has published an article breaking down the factors in the Fukuda cabinet's falling poll numbers — and notes an interesting finding.

Among the people who replied to the question asking them to evaluate Masuzoe Yoichi, minister of health and welfare, 72% replied favorably, making him the highest rated among eleven Diet members included in the poll. By comparison, Mr. Koizumi, now back in the public spotlight, received a 57% favorable rating, Aso Taro received a 52.9% favorable rating, Hatoyama Kunio received a 16.7% favorable rating (and a 68.8% unfavorable rating), Ishiba Shigeru received a 43.1% favorable rating (and a 40.8% unfavorable rating), and Ozawa Ichiro received a 26.5% favorable rating (and a 58.2% unfavorable rating).

In other words, Mr. Masuzoe may be the only member of the Fukuda cabinet to emerge from this government with his public standing enhanced.

I can't say that I'm surprised by this finding, but it does serve as an indictment of Mr. Fukuda. At the start of his cabinet, there were hopes that Mr. Fukuda's agenda would be consistent with Mr. Masuzoe's "humane reformism" — particularly concerning the Japanese bureaucracy. In the 100+ days since Mr. Fukuda took office, however, he has backpedaled, backing away from commitments to, well, just about any course of action.

The support for Mr. Masuzoe also suggests something about how the Japanese public thinks about reform. I suspect that Mr. Masuzoe's persistent criticism of the bureaucracy and its privileges wins him points. Beyond that, I think Mr. Masuzoe's kinder, gentler reformism, focused on improving the health care and welfare systems, is more appealing to the general public than Mr. Koizumi's strident reformism (just look at Mr. Koizumi's language: "destroy," "opposition forces," etc.) He offers a way forward for the LDP — a way forward that the LDP is incapable of embracing.


MTC said...

Japan Observer -

I am always wary of polls asking respondents whether they hyōka a certain politician or his/her actions. I do not know what that term means, effectively. Does it mean that the respondent "supports" shiji a politician? That they agree sansei with his/her policies? That they accept nattoku what the politician is doing? Or is it merely that they have an awareness nishiki of the politician's activities?

For example, the Sankei graph has 42.5% of the respondents saying that they hyōka new Osaka governor Hashimoto Toru. Since only a small fraction of the respondents could be residents of Osaka-fu, the 42.5% cannot be construed to mean that they are "supporters" of Hashimoto. Since he has been in office less than a month and seems to have been doing an intensive round of media appearances rather than his job of administering Osaka, respondents cannot be passing judgment on the effectiveness or attractiveness of his policies either.

So what does it mean that 42.5% of respondents hyōka Hashimoto Toru...or that 85.2% hyōka Miyazaki Governor Higashikokubaru Hideo?

MTC said...

That should be ninshiki.