More than 70 percent of people surveyed believe Ichiro Ozawa should resign as secretary general of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, despite dodging an indictment over a funding scandal, a nationwide poll showed Saturday.
The disapproval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama edged up to 45.1 percent, staying above the approval rate for the second consecutive poll, the latest survey showed.
The poll, conducted by telephone Friday and earlier Saturday, showed that 72.7 percent of the respondents think Ozawa should step down from the party’s No. 2 post over a scandal involving a land purchase by his funds management body, and that 87.2 percent do not accept Ozawa’s claim that he has never taken any illicit funds from companies.
The Cabinet approval rate stood little changed at 41.4 percent in the poll. In the previous poll conducted on Jan. 17-18, the Cabinet disapproval rate surpassed the approval rate for the first time at 44.1 percent to 41.5 percent.
Ozawa said Thursday he will remain in the post despite the indictment earlier that day of three secretaries — two former and one current — over alleged falsifications of annual reports for Ozawa’s funds management body in connection with the 2004 land purchase in Tokyo.
The prosecutors decided not to indict Ozawa himself over the case, citing insufficient evidence showing his involvement in the report falsifications.
The poll showed that 22.8 percent think Ozawa should be allowed to continue serving in the party executive post and only 7.9 percent were convinced by Ozawa’s claim that he has never received illicit funds.
As for Ozawa’s former aide and House of Representatives lawmaker Tomohiro Ishikawa, who is among the three people indicted on a charge of violating the Political Funds Control Law, 69.1 percent said he should resign as lawmaker while 21.8 percent said he does not need to do so.
The Liberal Democratic Party and other opposition parties jointly submitted a draft resolution calling for Ishikawa’s resignation as a Diet member following the indictment. Such a resolution, even if passed by the Diet, would not be legally binding.