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Japan Cabinet’s approval rating drops to 33%; many say coronavirus response ‘too late,’ Mainichi poll

TOKYO — The approval rate for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was 33% in the latest nationwide opinion poll carried out by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center on Nov. 16, falling 7 percentage points from a previous survey conducted on Dec. 12, 2020.


The percentage of people who said they disapproved of the Cabinet rose from the previous 49% to 57%. While the Suga government boasted a 64% approval rating when it was launched in September 2020, it significantly dropped in the latest survey, just as it did in the previous one.


Asked about the government’s declaration of a state of emergency over the spread of the coronavirus, 71% said the response came “too late,” exceeding the 18% who said “it was appropriate.” Seven percent said it was “unnecessary,” and 5% said they were “not sure.” While 50% said the state of emergency “should be issued nationwide,” 42% said “there is no need for a nationwide declaration,” and 8% said they were “not sure.”


In the previous survey, 57% responded that the government should declare another state of emergency over the coronavirus. Though a state of emergency for 11 prefectures was issued earlier this month, the central government remains hesitant in declaring a nationwide state of emergency. The public apparently thinks such a response by the government is falling behind.


Asked how they evaluate the Suga administration’s coronavirus countermeasures, 15% of respondents said they approved of them, up 1 point from the previous poll. Meanwhile, 66% responded they disapproved, a 4-point increase from the December survey, as the Suga government continues to receive a poor report card from the public. Eighteen percent said they had no opinion either way.


Respondents were also asked if the prime minister, who at press conferences and on other occasions has called for people to refrain from nonessential and nonurgent outings, as well as for a 70% telework rate, was successful in conveying his message to citizens. Only 19% said yes, falling short of the 80% who said no. While both ruling and opposing parties are criticizing Suga for his lack of effort to provide thorough explanations, many people are apparently also feeling that the prime minister lacks the ability to convey his messages.


Support for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) stood at 28%, a 5-point drop from the previous poll. The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP)’s approval rating was 11%, down 1 point; support for Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) was 7%, also down 1 point; for the Japanese Communist Party (JCP) it was 5%, falling 1-point from the December poll; the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito’s approval rating remained at 3%; for the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) the support rate rose from 1% to 2%; for the Party to Protect the People from NHK, the figure stayed at 1%; and for Reiwa Shinsengumi, the figure dropped from 2% to 1%. Forty percent of respondents said that they did not support a political party, up 9 points from the previous survey.


The poll was conducted through texts on mobile phones, as well as recorded questions asked through calls to landlines. There were 711 valid mobile phone respondents and 368 valid landline respondents.


(Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)

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