More would vote for Japan's opposition than the ruling party if a general election were held now, two media polls showed on Tuesday, further dimming prospects that Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda will call a snap election.
Asked who they would vote for if an election for parliament's lower house took place now, 36 percent of respondents in an Asahi newspaper poll picked the main opposition Democratic Party, against 23 percent for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
A poll by the Yomiuri newspaper showed less of a gap, but the LDP still lagged with 25.1 percent support, behind the Democrats on 27.5 percent.
The surveys follow a non-binding censure motion passed against Fukuda by parliament's opposition-led upper house.
Support for Fukuda, 71, has dived on doubts about his ability to cope with a divided parliament, which has delayed legislation and blocked key appointments, including the government's first two choices for Bank of Japan governor.
There has been persistent speculation that he would go to the polls sometime this year, seeking a new mandate to try to force the upper house to behave more cooperatively.
Another scenario is that the conservative LDP, which has ruled Japan for almost all of the past six decades, could dump Fukuda after he chairs a Group of Eight summit in northern Japan next month, and put in place a potentially more popular rival.
But the prime minister said in an interview with news agencies on Tuesday that he did not plan to resign or call a snap election for parliament's powerful lower house soon.
"There are major challenges that require immediate response and for the time being, the political challenge is to work on these," Fukuda said.
"We have not got the luxury of time to dissolve the lower house."
The Fukuda government's support has edged up in some recent polls and the Asahi survey showed support had risen to 23 percent, from 19 percent in May -- but it is still well short of support levels of around 60 percent seen in polls when he took power last September.
The Democrats have not benefited, with support for them also stuck around 20 percent, despite the higher voting intentions.
In another poll on the leadership, in the Sankei newspaper, showed top choice with 19.6 percent support was former Foreign Minister Taro Aso -- who won four times the backing of Fukuda with just 5 percent.
Behind Aso, on 16.7 percent support, was former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who has said he has no plans to come back. Democrats leader Ichiro Ozawa was third at 9.6 percent.
No election for the more powerful lower chamber need be held until September 2009.
Last Mod: 17 Haziran 2008, 15:00