Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, was the most favorably rated party head among candidates running for Sunday’s lower house election in a Yomiuri Shimbun survey conducted earlier this month.
Candidates running for the upcoming House of Representatives election were asked to rate party leaders on a scale of 0 to 100. Kishida topped the list with an average rating of 54.7, followed by Natsuo Yamaguchi, leader of the LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito, at 51.3 and Yuichiro Tamaki, head of the Democratic Party for the People, at 49.4.
Kishida earned an average of 96 among LDP candidates and 83 among Komeito candidates.
The prime minister’s average rating was higher than the rating then Prime Minister Shinzo Abe received in a similar survey ahead of the last lower house election in 2017.
Abe’s average rating among candidates from the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan was 9. However, in the latest survey, Kishida’s average rating among CDPJ candidates was 32.
Candidates from the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party gave Abe a zero rating four years ago. Kishida’s average rating was 4 among respondents from the JCP and 6 among SDP candidates.
Kishida has called for a shift away from the neoliberal policies that have been promoted since the Cabinet of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, an approach that attached importance to competition in the market. Kishida also aims to strengthen functions for distributing wealth to narrow economic disparities.
In the latest survey, 84% of respondents said they supported Kishida’s policy approach.
His stance earned support among respondents from most parties, with 98% in favor among CDPJ candidates, 96% among DPFP candidates and 95% among respondents from the JCP, exceeding the 92% of LDP candidates in favor, and 91% for Komeito.
All candidates from Reiwa Shinsengumi supported the idea, as did most of the respondents from the SDP.
Kishida’s aim to expand the middle class by redistributing wealth is similar to the policy goals promoted by the CDPJ, JCP and other opposition parties.
“ The ‘virtuous cycle of growth and [wealth] distribution’ that Kishida promotes is no different from Abenomics,” CDPJ leader Yukio Edano said, referring to Abe’s economic policy package.
However, with Kishida’s views on such issues being so close to those of the opposition parties, it cannot be denied that the differences between the two sides have become blurred.
Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) has adopted a different stance from the ruling block and other opposition parties.
Among Ishin candidates, 79% opposed Kishida’s position on such issues as the shift away from neoliberalism.
The party’s Secretary General Nobuyuki Baba has described Kishida as “having no mindset for reform at all,” reflecting the party’s confrontational approach with the LDP.
In the 2017 survey, Abe’s average favorability rating among Ishin candidates was 60, but in the latest survey, Kishida’s average rating among the party’s candidates was 49.