TOKYO, Oct 6 (Reuters) – Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is struggling to gain a foothold in voters just two days after taking up the top job and taking up his new government, several local media polls showed Tuesday.
At the lower end, the daily Asahi estimates the approval rate of Kishida at 45% and Mainichi at 49%. The more conservative Yomiuri said 56% supported his government while the Nikkei had 59%.
In all polls, support for Kishida’s new government was weaker than that of his predecessor, Yoshihide Suga’s government, when it came to power last year, with the Asahi reporting a 20 percentage point difference.
“I am aware of the survey results, but I also believe there is quite a loophole depending on the company that conducted the survey,” Kishida told reporters on Wednesday morning.
“Still, based on these results – including the low approval ratings – I will reflect on my actions and continue to work hard towards the upcoming elections,” he said.
Political advisor Takuma Oohamazaki said the results were not surprising given that Kishida is popular with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) but struggles to win support from swap voters.
“The selection of cabinet members, which included people with a history of scandals, as well as reports of strong influence from former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and Taro Aso appear to have dampened sentiment among swing voters,” he added.
Although Kishida’s ratings for a new government are low, they’re still higher than the most immediate ratings for Suga, who became hugely unpopular during his tenure as he struggled to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections brought about by the Delta variant was made worse.
Kishida said he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on October 14th and general elections are slated for October 31st, with managing the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery becoming key issues.
Oohamazaki said pre-election approval ratings could decline further as Kishida’s cabinet is likely to face opposition criticism during parliamentary consultations starting Monday.
“I don’t think this drop will affect the election results too much, but we can expect the ruling coalition to lose around 25 to 30 seats,” he said.
Among the solitary districts, the Mainichi poll said 41% of those polled would vote for the ruling coalition, while 34% would vote for the opposition and 24% were undecided. The Yomiuri gave the Kishida LDP 43% support, up 7 percentage points from the previous poll.
The prime minister presented his new cabinet on Monday. Although more than half of the ministerial posts were freshly faced, former Prime Ministers Abe and Aso’s allies were also well represented, signaling their continued influence. Continue reading
Reporting by Sakura Murakami. Editing by Gerry Doyle
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