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Opposition to state funeral for Abe rattles Kishida’s approval rating

In the Kyodo News public opinion poll conducted on July 30–31, over half of respondents said that they oppose holding a state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo. The percentage of those clearly opposed to the state funeral who do not support the cabinet was notably high, suggesting that this was likely one of the factors behind Kishida’s sudden drop in support. The opposition parties are prepared to press the administration about the state funeral as well as about ruling party politicians’ connections with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (formerly the Unification Church).


35% of cabinet supporters are opposed to a state funeral for Abe


“The public is questioning whether it is really appropriate to hold a state funeral for vague reasons such as leading the country for many years and posting impressive results in diplomacy,” sighed a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) veteran.


When asked whether they are in favor of or opposed to holding a state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, 17.9% said they are “in favor” and 27.2% said they are “generally in favor” while 23.5% said they are “generally opposed” and 29.8% said they are “opposed.” The most frequently given of the four responses was “opposed.”


What is the relationship between cabinet support and views on the state funeral? Some 59.8% of those “opposed” to the state funeral said they do not back the Kishida cabinet. Meanwhile, 22.3% of those “generally opposed” to the state funeral said that they do not back the current cabinet.


By political party supported, those opposed to the state funeral make up a good percentage of those who back the ruling parties. A total of 35.0% of LDP supporters are against the state funeral, with 13.4% of LDP supporters saying they are “opposed” and 21.6% saying they are “generally opposed” to the funeral. A total of 26.8% of Komeito supporters said they are not in favor of a state funeral for Abe, with 13.1% saying they are “opposed” and 13.7% saying they are “generally opposed.”


By age group, the older the age group, the higher the percentage against the state funeral. A full 47.3% of those age 39 or under said they are either opposed or generally opposed to the funeral. Some 49.7% of those in their 40s or 50s gave those same answers, while 59.9% of those age 60 or over gave that response. Only in the 18–39 age group did the percentage in favor of the state funeral (52.2%) outnumber the percentage opposed.


There was some difference between the sexes in their responses. A total of 48.8% of men were negative about the state funeral compared with 57.4% of women.


Komeito representative calls for explanation


The Kyodo News poll revealed dissatisfaction with the government for its failure to hold down the number of COVID infections, and approval was low for its handling of the rise in commodity prices. Many are also calling for an explanation of Diet members’ ties to the Unification Church.


About the drop in cabinet support, an LDP lawmaker who has served in a cabinet position comments, “The Unification Church issue and the state funeral issue have created a dreadful situation.” Komeito Representative Yamaguchi Natsuo said, “The government needs to explain the state funeral to the people of Japan and the international community and seek their understanding.” A high-ranking official says, “The state funeral, the Unification Church, and the handling of COVID are the causes [of the drop in support], and the biggest factor is the Unification Church issue.”


Baba Nobuyuki, co-leader of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), said, “Kishida has been hit with a triple punch. The state funeral is to be covered using tax money and so the matter should be fully explained at the Diet.” (Comments by CDPJ and JCP leaders have been redacted.)

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