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Polling suggests Japan ruling party set for election defeat

TOKYO -- Hopes dimmed for Japan's ruling Democratic Party to stay in power after an election expected in a few months, with nearly three times as many voters planning to vote for the largest opposition party as for the Democrats, a poll showed on Monday.

The Asahi newspaper survey said 13 percent of those polled plan to vote for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), compared with 36 percent for the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

The survey comes after Justice Minister Keishu Tanaka came under criticism over his past ties with an organized crime syndicate. Domestic media said he is set to step down, dealing a blow to Noda.

Voter support for Noda's government came in at 18 percent, the Asahi survey showed, falling below the 20 percent mark for the first time since he took office in September 2011.

The Democrats swept to power in 2009, pledging to change how Japan was governed after more than half a century of almost unbroken rule by the LDP.

Three years and three prime ministers later, critics say the DPJ has largely failed to deliver on pledges to cut bureaucracy.

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