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Cablegate: Public Opinion Regarding Hatoyama Administration and Its

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TOKYO 002342

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED
SIPDIS

STATE FOR I/RF, PA/PR/FPC/W, IIP/G/EA, EAP/PD, R/MR, EAP/J, EAP/P,
PM;
USTR FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE;
TREASURY FOR OASIA/IMI;
SECDEF FOR OASD/PA;
CP BUTLER OKINAWA FOR AREA FIELD OFFICE;
PACOM HONOLULU FOR PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ADVISOR

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OIIP KMDR KPAO JA
SUBJECT: PUBLIC OPINION REGARDING HATOYAMA ADMINISTRATION AND ITS
POLICIES TO DATE

1. (U) The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was swept into power in
the Lower House election on August 30 by voters hungry for change
after a half century of nearly unbroken rule by a Liberal Democratic
Party, which the media judged ineffectual and out of touch with the
people. On September 16, the same day the DPJ's Yukio Hatoyama was
elected prime minister, he formed a tripartite cabinet with the
Social Democratic Party and the People's New Party. In polls
conducted by four of Japan's largest newspapers on September 16-17
the cabinet received the second highest inaugural ratings since the
dailies began surveys of newly installed cabinets: 77% in the
Mainichi poll, 75% in the Yomiuri and Nikkei, and 71% in the Asahi.
The support rate was 68.7% in the Sankei/Fuji Network News poll and
72% in the Kyodo News poll. On the other hand, no disapproval rate
topped 17%. A poll conducted by the Yomiuri on October 2-4 showed
cabinet support was nearly steady, at 71%, down only 4 points from
the previous survey.

2. (U) The polls disclose that one Hatoyama initiative receiving
consistently high support is the goal of slashing greenhouse gas
emissions to a level 25% below the 1990 level by 2020. In the
Yomiuri poll, 74% supported this goal, and 15% opposed it. The
corresponding figures in the Mainichi poll were 69% and 25%. In the
recent Yomiuri poll support for this measure was up one point, to
75%. Also receiving high support were allowances for children. A DPJ
proposal to give families 26,000 yen (approximately USD 289) per
month for each child of middle school age or younger was supported
by 58% and opposed by 39% in the Mainichi poll. Corresponding
figures in the Yomiuri poll were 60% and 35%. Respondents to the
Kyodo poll were less supportive of the measure, 39.1% vs. 28.1%. In
the recent Yomiuri poll the figures were 57% and 39%, indicating a
slip in support for the subsidy.There was also considerable support
for
the DPJ's proposal to waive tuition at public high schools and
annually grant from 120,000 to 240,000 yen (USD 1334 to 2681) for
every child in a private high school. In the Mainichi poll 61%
supported this measure, and 35% opposed it. To the Asahi's question,
"Do you think the child allowances should be paid?" 60% answered yes
and 30% no.

3. (U) One plank in the DPJ election platform called for
non-extension of the law authorizing the Maritime Self-Defense
Force's refueling of ships in the Indian Ocean beyond its expiration
in January 2009. More respondents supported than opposed this plank,
44% vs. 39% in the Yomiuri poll. In the recent poll by the newspaper
the corresponding figures were 48% and 37%, indicating growing
support for ending the refueling mission. In response to a question
about Japan-U.S. relations in the Asahi poll, 71% said relations
would remain unchanged but only 14% said they would worsen. This
suggests that concern over the raft of issues including termination
of the refueling mission, review of the realignment of U.S. forces
in Japan, and advocacy of an equal Japan-U.S. relationship has not
engendered widespread concern among the public.

4. (SBU) Comment: The coalition government has sufficient seats in
both upper and lower houses of the Diet to push through legislation
in the special session to be convened on October 26. But the LDP,
the major opposition party, can be expected to sling mud at the
DPJ-led government. If that mud sticks, the Hatoyama cabinet's
support rate might slip. For example, the LDP might attack the
coalition government as indifferent to the feelings of the people of
Yamba, Gunma, for halting construction of a dam in their community.
While the recent Yomiuri poll shows more people support (44%) than
oppose (36%) halting the construction, there is sympathy for the

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local citizens, some of whom left their ancestral homes to make way
for the project, and condemnation of the seemingly cold way in which
Minister of Land and Infrastructure Maehara responded to their
appeals for a reversal of the government's decision. The
administration can seemingly put off hard choices about the
refueling mission and realignment of U.S. forces at least until the
expected arrival of President Obama in mid-November. Whether the
government can reach accord with the U.S. without seeming to renege
on the DPJ's campaign pledges may also affect the cabinet's support
ratings. A further factor is the degree to which Hatoyama can bask
in the glow of the popular U.S. President and forge a Yukio-Barack
friendship. In conclusion, the Hatoyama cabinet's honeymoon with the
Japanese nation looks like it will continue into the near future
barring a negative development of a scale big enough to change
public sentiment.

ZUMWALT

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