The approval rating of the newly formed Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stood at 56% in a poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun on Monday and Tuesday, higher than the 31% approval rating for the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in a survey conducted last month but far off the 74% approval for the Suga Cabinet in a survey conducted just after it was launched in September last year.
The disapproval rating for the Kishida Cabinet was 27% in the latest poll.
Regarding the fact that 13 of the 20 Cabinet picks were lawmakers with no ministerial experience, 61% of respondents said they supported the appointments, while 23% said they did not.
Kishida emphasized a balance between senior, junior and mid-ranking lawmakers for the appointments of cabinet members and party executives, a decision that was supported by 64% of respondents and opposed by 24%.
In a question on the selection of Akira Amari as Liberal Democratic Party secretary general, 48% of respondents opposed the appointment and 30% supported it. Even among LDP supporters, only 41% supported the appointment.
Regarding Kishida’s proposed party reforms, including limiting the terms of LDP executives to three consecutive one-year terms, 48% of respondents said they had high expectations for such reforms, while 42% said they did not.
In a question about the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, 49% of respondents supported it — up 14 percentage points from the September survey — while 45% were against it.
It was the first time in 11 months that those who supported the government’s response exceeded those who did not, a likely reflection of the downward trend in new cases.
The government’s decision to end the state of emergency and priority measures at the end of September was supported by 57% of respondents. However, 87% said they were worried about a resurgence of infections — 40% were very worried and 47% were somewhat worried.
The LDP received the most support in a question about the upcoming lower house election’s proportional representation section, with 48% of respondents saying they would vote for the party, up six percentage points from the previous poll.
The rating for other parties did not change significantly. For the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, 13% said they would vote for the party, up from 11% in the previous poll.
Campaigning for the next lower house election will officially begin on Oct. 19, with voting and ballot counting taking place on Oct. 31.
The support rating for the LDP was 43%, up seven percentage points from 36% in the previous poll, while the figures were unchanged for the CDPJ at 7%, Komeito at 3%, and the Japanese Communist Party at 3%.
Thirty-six percent of respondents said they did not support any party, down from 43% in the previous poll.
■ Positive effect of LDP poll
Some LDP lawmakers attributed the rise in the party’s support rating to the presidential election, in which Kishida stood against Taro Kono, Sanae Takaichi and Seiko Noda.
“The way people see the LDP has changed completely since the presidential election,” said a former cabinet member.
“The Kishida Cabinet will realize an administration that will earn trust and sympathy [from the public]. We would like to continue to heed the voices of the people,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Although the approval rating for the Cabinet was not as high as it was for the Suga Cabinet in September last year, Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, considered it a “reasonably good” result. “People might feel they cannot expect much during the battle against the pandemic,” he said.
It is widely thought that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, former Finance Minister Taro Aso, and LDP Secretary General Amari — dubbed the “three As” — are gaining more influence in the party, which might have dampened public expectations.
“We need the cooperation of the three As to run the administration stably,” a senior lawmaker said, “but all we see is their faces, while Kishida’s face is obscured.”