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Poll shows majority wants DPJ to win

Date Posted: 2009-07-23

Support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party continues to plummet, with new polls by major Japanese newspapers now showing a majority of citizens want the opposition democratic Party of Japan to win the upcoming House of Representatives election.

The latest, a poll by Mainichi Shimbun, shows 56% of those responding want to see a change in government leadership, a three percentage points shift in less than a month. Only 23% indicated a desire to see the LDP continue in the power position, which DPJ support jumped two points to 36%. An Asahi phone poll showed an even larger level of growing support for the DPJ. Surveys also show Prime Minister Taro Asoís Cabinet rating falling to 17%, a drop of three percent in only two weeks.

A power shift giving the DPJ control of Japanís government could signify major changes in Japanese policies with the United States. Of key concern here in Okinawa is the question of whether the DPJ would try to reverse decisions made to move 8,000 U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam. Keiichiro Asao, a Diet member in the upper house is already being vocal about changing the location for a new airfield to replace Futenma Marine Corps Air Station.

Asao has gone on record with promises to reassess the decisions made by the Aso government to move the Marines off Okinawa by 2014, questioning the levels of funding Japan has already agreed to. Only a week ago the two governments exchanged paperwork paving the way for a Japanese payment of •34.6 billion to finance some of the infrastructure activities necessary before Marines can move.

Guamís Finegayan area , Anderson Air Base and Apula district all are to get money for maintenance, while Finegayana will also get money to build a fire station and barracks, and Apula will receive funds to construct a squadron headquarters building and a hospital. The lynchpin to moving the Marines is the clause that says Futenma must move to a newly constructed airbase in northern Okinawa before the Marines transition to Guam.

Observers say a DPJ takeover could alter the agreement for Japanís Maritime Self Defense Forces to continue providing fuel in the Indian Ocean. The DPJ has steadfastly opposed the refueling program. Some insiders say the DPJ will tone down its position and agree to a program continuation, but thereís been no clear decision announced.

A fall from power by the LDP will erase a five-decade control of the government, which has led Japan for all by 11 months since 1955. The question political pundits are now trying to sort out is whether the DPJ can build itself a large enough power base to control the Lower House of Representatives, or be forced to form coalitions.

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