koizumi heading for a haircut?

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    Japan PM’s popularity plummets after extending troop presence in Iraq

    12 December 2004

    TOKYO - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s support rating has plunged to 37 percent as a growing number of people oppose his decision to extend Japan’s troop deployment in Iraq, an opinion poll report said Sunday.

    Support for the cabinet fell eight points from a month ago to below 40 percent for the first time since he took office in April 2001, while the disapproval rating rose nine points to a record-high 45 percent, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

    The poll was taken in the two days after after Koizumi’s cabinet decided Thursday to extend the mission of Japan’s 550 troops in Iraq for another year.

    “It appears that the premier’s support rating reflects his decision to extend the troop deployment without receiving the understanding of the people,” the paper said.

    The poll of 1,115 people showed 62 percent opposed to the extension, up from 51 percent a month earlier, while 31 percent were supportive, up from 27 percent.

    A full 84 percent said the premier’s explanation for the extension was “inadequate”.

    The Self-Defense Forces troops have been in southern Iraq on a non-combat humanitarian and reconstruction mission since the beginning of the year, Japan’s first dispatch to a country in the throes of combat since World War II.

    The public is increasingly unconvinced over the government assurances of the troops’ safety, with 56 percent saying that the area where troops were operating was “unstable”, the paper said.

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