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Hatoyama Cabinet ratings fall

United States President Barack Obama welcomes Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan to the Nuclear Security Summit at the Washington Convention Center, Monday, April 12, 2010 in Washington, DC. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool
United States President Barack Obama welcomes Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama of Japan to the Nuclear Security Summit at the Washington Convention Center, Monday, April 12, 2010 in Washington, DC. UPI/Ron Sachs/Pool | License Photo

TOKYO, May 31 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama Cabinet's public support ratings fell below 20 percent in a poll taken after its decision on relocating a U.S. base.

The Kyodo News' weekend telephone poll of 1,457 voters nationwide showed the ratings at 19.1 percent, the first time they have fallen below 20 percent in the news agency's poll, Kyodo reported.

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The government last week announced its decision to relocate the U.S. Marines Futenma Air Station from its current location to a less-crowded site within Okinawa and not outside the prefecture, which had been Hatoyama's election campaign pledge. The decision was in line with a U.S. wish to make no changes in a 2006 agreement on the issue.

In the poll, 51.2 percent of the respondents called for Hatoyama's resignation for failing to resolve the base issue as he had promised, while 44.4 percent said he should stay on as prime minister.

The report said the Cabinet's plunge in the ratings would be a blow to Hatoyama's government ahead of this summer's elections to the upper house of parliament.

The Cabinet's ratings stood at 72 percent after Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan-led coalition came to power last September. The ratings had since fallen to 36.3 percent in early March and to 20.7 percent in late April.

Asked which party they supported in the latest poll, 21.9 percent favored the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, compared to 20.5 percent for Hatoyama's Democratic Party of Japan.

On the base relocation issue, 66.1 percent said they did not support the plan, while 25.4 percent favored it.

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