TOKYO - PUBLIC support for Prime Minister Taro Aso has fallen to 11 per cent and more than one third of voters want him to quit now, a poll showed on Monday, as pressure mounted on the Japanese leader in an election year.
Just over half of those responding to the Mainichi newspaper survey want the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) to win the next election, which must be held by October, more than twice the 22 per cent who opted for Mr Aso's ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
Mr Aso's public support, already slumping after policy flip-flops and gaffes, took another heavy hit when close ally Shoichi Nakagawa resigned as finance minister last week after being forced to deny he was drunk at a G7 news conference in Rome.
The survey, released on the eve of Mr Aso's meeting with US President Barack Obama in Washington on Tuesday, showed that 39 per cent wanted the prime minister to resign immediately.
Another 39 per cent said he should step down after the budget for the fiscal year from April is passed.
Parliament is debating a record 88.5 trillion yen (US$1.45 trillion) government budget for the next year.
The budget is expected to be approved by parliament's lower house this week and take effect within 30 days of that.
Another poll, by the Nikkei business daily, put support for the embattled premier at 15 per cent, down 4 points from its previous survey last month.
Asked which party voters planned to cast their ballots for in the next general election, 42 percent said they would vote for the Democrats, up 2 points from the previous survey, while 26 per cent said they would vote for the LDP, up 5 points.
Fifty-two percent of respondents to the Nikkei survey said the government's first priority should be implementing steps to stimulate the recession-hit economy, while 43 per cent said holding an early election should have top priority. -- REUTERS