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Ruling parties have sense of crisis as support rate fails to rebound

  • October 3, 2022
  • , Asahi evening edition , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

In the Asahi Shimbun’s nationwide public opinion poll conducted on Oct. 1–2, the disapproval rating for the Kishida Cabinet reached 50% for the first time (47% in the previous survey conducted in September), and the approval rating hit a record low of 40% (41%). A sense of crisis is spreading through the government and ruling parties as adverse circumstances are unending.


“It doesn’t look like the decline [in the cabinet support rate] has stopped yet,” said a high-ranking official of the Prime Minister’s Office [Kantei] on the morning of Oct. 3, expressing concern over the polling results. He says this because the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (former Unification Church) scandal is having a major impact on the Prime Minister Kishida Fumio’s backing. A former Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) cabinet member is also despairing: “The Unification Church issue lies at the root of this. It will not be easy to turn things around.” A top Komeito official said, “All we can do is weather the storm.”


At the extraordinary session of the Diet, which opens on Oct. 3, the opposition parties are poised to step up their interrogation of Minister in Charge of Economic Revitalization Yamagiwa Daishiro, whose connections with the sect have come to light one after another. “If we cannot replace the cabinet ministers with deep ties to the cult, we will continue to be questioned in the Diet. With the unified local elections on the horizon next spring, members of the party will start to be vocal about their dissatisfaction,” said an LDP heavyweight, expressing concerns about a further drop in the cabinet support rate as well as destabilization within the party.


“It is important to take seriously the views of the public revealed in the opinion polls and reflect them in the government’s response,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno Hirokazu at a press conference held after the cabinet meeting on the morning of Oct. 3.


The public’s views on the state funeral for former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo did not change significantly from the polls the Asahi took before the state funeral. A full 59% of respondents in the most recent poll said they “do not approve” of the state funeral, and those associated with the Kantei viewed this as “a fairly harsh assessment.” A senior member of the Abe faction expressed regret, saying, “There were problems with the way [the funeral] was handled.”


Izumi Kenta, head of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said, “The three major factors [behind the drop in Kishida’s support] are his steamrolling through with the state funeral, his inadequate handling of the Unification Church scandal, and his delay in implementing economic measures.”


In the October Asahi public opinion poll, a plurality of 74% of respondents said that the explanation given by House of Representatives Speaker Hosoda Hiroyuki regarding his relationship with the cult was “insufficient.” Koike Akira, head of the Japanese Communist Party’s secretariat, said, “It’s clear that the public is not convinced [by the Speaker’s statement]. Hosoda should resign.”

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