July 11, 2011 / 12:41 PM / 8 years ago

Support for Japan government sinks to lowest since 2009 - report

TOKYO (Reuters) - Support for Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s government slid to the lowest since 2009 when his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) swept to power advocating a change, a survey showed on Monday, in a further blow to the unpopular premier.

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan attends a budget committee meeting in the upper house of parliament in Tokyo July 7, 2011. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Two-thirds of respondents in the survey by public broadcaster NHK said they wanted Kan to step down by the end of August when the current session of parliament ends.

Nearly 40 percent wanted Kan to go immediately.

Kan, under fire for his handling of a nuclear crisis following the March quake and tsunami, said last month he would step down. But he kept the timing vague, frustrating his critics in the opposition and his own party.

The poll by NHK showed support for Kan’s government dropped to 16 percent, down 9 points from last month’s survey. His disapproval rating rose by 11 points to 68 percent, with many citing Kan’s lack of ability to carry out policy steps.

Support for the ruling DPJ slid to 13.6 percent, the lowest since May 2007, compared with 23.4 percent for the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which the DPJ had ousted in 2009.

The government last week said Japan would conduct stress tests for atomic plants to ease public wariness over nuclear safety in the wake of meltdowns at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility.

The surprise announcement alarmed corporate Japan and outraged local authorities, who had been prepared to approve reactor restarts after receiving safety assurances from the government.

A quarter of respondents in the survey welcomed Kan’s decision on stress tests, but the two-thirds were not supportive of the idea.

The survey also showed 42 percent wanted to see the number of nuclear power plants reduced, but 21 percent said all the atomic plants should be abolished.

Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa

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