Japan opposition wary of polls showing a landslide

Japan opposition wary of polls showing a landslide

Tokyo: Japan’s Democratic Party leader cautioned against polls showing his opposition may be headed for a landslide election victory, saying that complacency is the major enemy in the run-up to the 30 August general election.

The Democrats could win more than 300 of the 480 seats in parliament’s lower house, although the number could change as more than 30% of voters had not yet decided how they would vote, Kyodo news agency said based on a telephone survey.

Other polls by newspapers have also shown the opposition Democrats may score a runaway victory, seizing power from Prime Minister Taro Aso’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) that has ruled for most of the past 54 years.

“This trend is clearly far stronger than I actually feel," Yukio Hatoyama, leader of the opposition Democrats, said during a TV programme. “We are not complacent at all and if we relax in the final one week, we will be out... The most dangerous thing is to relax."

Hatoyama added that about 100 Democrats candidates were straddling the line between victory and defeat.

An overwhelming victory for the opposition Democrats would end a policy deadlock in parliament, where the party and its allies already control the less powerful upper chamber and can delay legislation.

The Kyodo poll showed the LDP, struggling with voter anger over scandals and long-term uncertainties about the economy and social security, could see its strength more than halved to slightly over 100 seats from 300 ahead of the election.

Hatoyama vowed not to increase government debt issuance in new fiscal year that starts on 1 April next year, if the Democrats take control of the government.

New government bond issuance hit a record ¥44.1 trillion ($470 billion) in the current fiscal year, boosted by Tokyo’s stimulus spending, which has helped the economy return to growth after the longest and deepest recession since World War Two.

“If we were to increase debt any more, the country wouldn’t hold out. We must make efforts to reduce it," Hatoyama said. “We can’t be pleased about a return to growth by such a degree... I don’t think the economy will improve this way.