Japan PM Kishida’s disapproval rate reaches 50%, highest since December

The approval rating for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet remained at a dismal 33.6 percent, while the disapproval rating reached the highest point since December at 50.0 percent, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday, amid lingering public concerns over the national identification card system and inflation.

The support rate has declined in recent months and is now only a tad higher than the lowest level since Kishida took office in October 2021, which was 33.1 percent logged in November and December 2022.

In the previous poll in mid-July, the approval rate was 34.3 percent and the disapproval rate was 48.6 percent. The last time the disapproval rate was above the 50 percent line was December last year.

According to the two-day nationwide telephone survey conducted through Sunday, 79.8 percent of the respondents lacked confidence in Kishida’s leadership in addressing public anxiety over the “My Number” identification card system, following revelations of personal information leaks and registration errors over the past months.

A plan to scrap health insurance certificates and combine their functionality with My Number cards next year has remained unpopular, with 77.0 percent, which is around the same as the previous poll, calling for its postponement or cancellation.

A total of 88.1 percent were also concerned over the potential economic damage stemming from a government plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex into the Pacific Ocean.

The government is in the final stage of deciding when to start the release of the wastewater, with the end of the month eyed, asserting that the move conforms to international standards and is safe. But local fishermen are anxious about the impact on their businesses and China has also been strongly opposed to the discharge.

Only 15.0 percent said the government’s explanation on the issue was “sufficient” and 81.9 percent thought it was “insufficient.”

On the release of the water itself, which the government says is necessary to continue with the work to scrap the crippled nuclear reactors, 29.6 percent said they approve the move, 25.7 percent were against it and 43.8 percent were unable to say which side they stand.

As inflation continues to weigh on households, 75.3 percent wanted the government to keep extending subsidies beyond the planned end of September in an effort to curb the impact of a surge in gasoline prices.

Much of the public also appears unenthusiastic about the government’s plan to boost child care spending to reverse the declining birthrate, with a total of 69.2 percent saying they have either “no expectations” or “do not expect much” from the measure.

By political parties, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party maintained the highest support rate with 35.8 percent, which was followed by 11.4 percent of respondents favoring the opposition Japan Innovation Party and 8.7 percent preferring the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

The LDP’s junior coalition ally Komeito secured 3.6 percent of support.

The survey called 467 randomly selected households with eligible voters on landline phones and 2,369 mobile phone numbers. It yielded responses from 425 households and 624 mobile phone users.

By KYODO