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New Japan PM Kishida off to rocky start in polling

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By Reuters
New Japan PM Kishida off to rocky start in polling
New Japan PM Kishida off to rocky start in polling   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

TOKYO -Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, is struggling to find his footing with voters just two days after he was voted into office and launched his new government, multiple polls by local media showed on Tuesday.

On the lower end, the daily Asahi put Kishida’s approval rating at 45% while Mainichi put it at 49%. The more conservative-leaning Yomiuri said 56% supported his government, while the Nikkei had 59%.

In all the polls, support for Kishida’s new government was lower than that of his predecessor Yoshihide Suga’s administration when it came into power last year, with the Asahi reporting a 20 percentage-point difference.

“I’m aware of the polling results, but also believe that there is quite a gap depending on the company that conducted the survey,” said Kishida to reporters on Wednesday morning.

“Regardless, I will reflect on my actions based on these results – including the low approval ratings – and continue to work hard toward the upcoming election,” he added.

Although Kishida’s ratings are low for a fresh administration, they are still higher than the most immediate ratings for Suga, who became deeply unpopular during his tenure as he struggled to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections, exacerbated by the Delta variant.

Kishida said he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on Oct. 14, and a general election is scheduled for Oct. 31, with the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery set to become key issues.

For single-seat districts, the Mainichi poll said that 41% of respondents would vote for the ruling coalition, while 34% would vote for the opposition and 24% were undecided. The Yomiuri put support for Kishida’s Liberal Democratic Party at 43%, up 7 percentage points from the previous poll.

The premier unveiled his new cabinet on Monday. Although more than half of the ministerial roles were filled with fresh faces, the line-up also featured allies of former premiers Shinzo Abe and Taro Aso heavily, signalling their ongoing influence.