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Seventh wave of COVID brings Kishida approval to its second lowest level ever, Nikkei poll

In the Nikkei poll conducted on July 29–31, the Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating was 58%, its second lowest since its inauguration in October 2021. The “seventh wave” of COVID-19 and high prices have come to exert a downward pressure on Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s administration. Asked what policies the prime minister should prioritize in the days ahead, 35% of respondents cited “COVID countermeasures,” up 19 percentage points from the previous survey conducted in June.


The Cabinet’s approval rating fell from the 66% found in May to 60% in June, and it has dropped 2 more points this time to hit 58%. This is a reappearance of the 2020 trend where cabinet support dropped when the number of COVID infections rose. The number of COVID cases is setting record highs day after day, putting a strain on the medical care system.


The percentage of people who chose “COVID countermeasures” in the multiple-choice question about which policies they would like to see Prime Minister Kishida prioritize was the highest since February 2022. There are now cases where people close to respondents are becoming infected with the virus and are unable to receive appropriate medical care, and this may be placing downward pressure on Kishida’s approval rating.


Some Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) cabinet ministers and lawmakers have been found to have connections with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church), including making large donations. If Kishida mishandles this, it could bring his support rate down further.


Some 49% of respondents said the national and local governments should impose restrictions on people’s movement, while 45% said such a policy is not necessary.


By age group, the elderly, who are regarded as at high risk of developing severe COVID symptoms, were in favor of restricting people’s activities. Only 39% of those aged 18 to 39 and those in their 40s and 50s said restrictions should be imposed, while 63% of those aged 60 and over said movements should be curtailed. Similarly, 58% of those in their 50s or younger said restrictions are not needed, and only 31% of those 60 or over gave that response.


Some 56% of respondents said they “approve” the government’s handling of COVID, 7 points lower than in June. By age group, the biggest drop in approval was the 12-point decline seen among those aged 60 or over.

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