Monday’s Yomiuri front-paged the results of a public opinion poll in which some 46% of respondents preferred Chief Cabinet Secretary Suga to former Secretary General Ishiba or former Foreign Minister Kishida as the next Japanese prime minister. About 33% chose Ishiba, while 9% picked Kishida. Slightly over half said the next prime minister should continue the Abe administration’s economic policy, and 66% said he should continue its foreign and security policies. Almost three out of five said they do not have high expectations for the new opposition party to be launched through the merger of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and the Democratic Party for the People, while some 36% said otherwise.
The daily surmised that the public is averse to “change’ in national politics due to the coronavirus pandemic, speculating that Suga is enjoying a comfortable lead because a large majority of people appreciate the Abe administration’s achievements over the past eight years and regard the government spokesman as an apt successor to the departing premier. According to the poll, support for the Abe cabinet rose 15% from a month ago to 52%. The paper noted that such a sharp increase in popularity is unusual for an outgoing prime minister and that this reflects the voters’ appreciation of the administration’s performance. The daily said Suga and his associates are increasingly confident that he will achieve a landslide victory in view of his growing popularity. The paper also expressed the view that if Suga is elected, he might be tempted to dissolve the House of Representatives for a snap election in the near future.
Today’s Nikkei opined that if Suga wins a majority of votes in the prefectural primaries ahead of a sweeping victory in the party leadership election, his political foundation will be boosted significantly.