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July 21, 2009

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Support for Japanese opposition still grows

JAPAN'S opposition Democratic Party widened its lead in opinion polls published yesterday, a day before unpopular Prime Minister Taro Aso is expected to dissolve parliament's lower house for an August 30 election.

A victory by the decade-old Democratic Party would end more than 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the business-friendly LDP and improve chances of resolving a policy deadlock caused by a divided parliament.

An Asahi newspaper survey showed that 42 percent of respondents planned to vote for the Democrats, up 5 points from the last survey in early July, while 19 percent will vote for Aso's Liberal Democratic Party, down 3 points.

The latest bad news for the LDP follows weeks of chaos for the party.

Some party rebels sought to oust Aso last week after he announced his plan for an August 30 general election, but he now looks set to keep his job after party heavyweights stepped in.

In the Asahi poll, 50 percent of respondents said their view of the LDP had worsened due to its internal strife.

Support for Aso fell to 17 percent in both Asahi and Mainichi newspaper polls, down 3 points from the Asahi's last survey in July and a 2-point fall from Mainichi's last survey in June.

In the Mainichi survey, 28 percent of respondents opted for Democratic Party leader Yukio Hatoyama as premier, while 11 percent preferred Aso. But 57 percent said neither was suited to lead.

Asahi showed that 28 percent were either undecided or did not answer when asked how they planned to vote. Forecasts of a massive Democratic win could scare away some conservative voters, reducing their potential margin of victory, some analysts say.


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