Friday, September 30

New Japan PM Kishida off to rocky start in polling

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TOKYO — Japan’s new Prime Minister, Fumio Kishida, is struggling to find his footing with voters just two days after he was voted into office and launched his new government, multiple polls by local media showed on Tuesday.

On the lower end, the daily Asahi put Kishida’s approval rating at 45% while Mainichi put it at 49%. The more conservative-leaning Yomiuri said 56% supported his government, while the Nikkei had 59%.

In all the polls, support for Kishida’s new government was lower than that of his predecessor Yoshihide Suga’s administration when it came into power last year, with the Asahi reporting a 20 percentage-point difference.

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Although Kishida’s ratings are low for a fresh administration, they are still higher than the most immediate ratings for Suga, who became deeply unpopular during his tenure as he struggled to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections, exacerbated by the Delta variant.

Kishida said he would dissolve the lower house of parliament on Oct. 14, and a general election is scheduled for Oct. 31.

The premier unveiled his new cabinet on Monday. Although more than half of the ministerial roles were filled with fresh faces, the line-up also featured allies of former premiers Shinzo Abe and Taro Aso heavily, signaling their ongoing influence. (Reporting by Sakura Murakami . Editing by Gerry Doyle)