Japanese PM's support ratings surge after election victory, surveys show

Support ratings for Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's government have surged after his ruling party's landslide victory in weekend parliamentary elections, according to surveys published Wednesday.

The public approval rate for Koizumi's Cabinet surged this week to 61 percent, up 8.4 percentage points from just before Sunday's elections, according to a poll taken Monday and Tuesday by Japan's largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shinbum.

Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory in the elections, boosting its seats in the powerful lower house by nearly 20 percent and giving the ruling coalition _ which includes the New Komei Party _ a two-thirds majority.

Other newspaper polls conducted Monday and Tuesday showed similar results. The national newspaper Asahi Shimbun said the approval rating for Koizumi's Cabinet rose to 55 percent from 51 percent, while the business newspaper Nihon Keizai Shimbun said it climbed to 54 percent from 50 percent. The Asahi survey said 58 percent of respondents attributed the LDP's election victory to broad support for Koizumi, showing his popularity played a key role in the election results.

More than half of the respondents to the Asahi survey said the election results were "a surprise," while a majority also said they supported Koizumi's retirement when his current term ends in September 2006.

The Yomiuri and the Asahi conducted their polls through telephone interviews of 989 and 1,005 voters respectively. The Nihon Keizai survey was conducted through the Internet with 2,000 randomly selected participants. None of the polls provided a margin of error, АР reported.

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