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Japanese Polled on New Cabinet

August 2, 1998

TOKYO (AP) _ Barely one-third of Japanese interviewed said they approve of their country’s new Cabinet, making it one of the most unpopular new governments in decades, according to an opinion poll released Sunday.

The poll, conducted by the Yomiuri newspaper, also showed Japan’s leading opposition party in a dead heat for voter support with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of incoming Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi.

The survey found that 33.1 percent of voters approve of the Cabinet that Obuchi unveiled Thursday after he won an election in Parliament to become Japan’s next leader.

That result makes it the third-lowest approval rating for any new Cabinet since such surveys began in the early 1970s, Japan’s largest newspaper said.

The newspaper said it quizzed about 1,000 voters nationwide on Friday and Saturday. It provided no margin of error.

Of those polled, 52 percent said they disapproved of the new Cabinet, which Obuchi has vowed will focus on rejuvenating an economy stuck in its worst recession since World War II and strengthening the nation’s debt-ridden banking system.

The poll also showed that 21.4 percent of voters said they support the Democratic Party of charismatic opposition leader Naoto Kan, while 24.1 back Obuchi’s ruling LDP.

The newspaper said only the brief-lived government of Sosuke Uno in 1989 and the Cabinet of Takeo Fukuda in 1977 had lower approval ratings when they took office.

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