Koizumi's approval rating rises, pension reform tops concern

The approval rating for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's cabinet edged up slightly on a latest survey, with the unpopular pension reform program advocatedby him remaining the primary concern to the Japanese, the major Nihon Keizai Shimbun said Monday.

According to a survey conducted from Thursday through Sunday, the approval rating stood at 42 percent, up from 40 percent in July which was the lowest in the paper's surveys since Koizumi took office in 2001. Meanwhile, the disapproval rating was 40 percent, rising 1 percentage point from July.

Up to 61 percent of the respondents thought Koizumi should be focused mostly on the reforms of pension and other social securityitems. Koizumi intended to raise premiums and cut benefits to makethe pension system sustainable. But pension reform law package endorsed in May has been strongly criticized by the public and theopposition parties.

Concerns over the economic recovery, which came second, eased amid a continuing welcome economic indicators. About 30 percent said the issue should be the cabinet's priority, dropping dramatically from the 68 percent in March 2002.

On the support for political parties, the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) was narrowing the distance with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The approval rating for the DPJ rose 4 percentage points from October to the record high of 31 percent. On the contrary, the LDPsaw the support rate at 34 percent, unchanged from the last surveyand the lowest since Koizumi took power.

The paper surveyed 2,989 people and was responded by 1,794 people, or 60.0 percent.

Source: Xinhua

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