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Japan's Suga Cabinet approval rate drops 7 points to 57%: Mainichi poll

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO -- The approval rate of the Cabinet of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was 57% in a recent survey, dropping 7 percentage points from the previous poll conducted on Sept. 17 soon after his administration was launched, while 36% said they didn't support the Cabinet, up 9 points from September.

    The Mainichi Shimbun and polling firm Social Survey Research Center conducted a joint opinion poll on Nov. 7. Respondents either replied to texts on their mobile phones or answered questions on landlines through automated voice messages. Some 726 valid responses were received via mobile phones, while 314 responses were collected using landlines.

    On the topic of Prime Minister Suga's refusal to appoint six researchers as new members to the independent advisory body Science Council of Japan, 37% told the survey it was "problematic," while 44% said they did not think it was an issue. Another 18% said they "could not say either way." Nearly 80% of those who said it was problematic did not support the Suga Cabinet, suggesting that the science council issue contributed to the lower approval rate compared to the previous month. Suga has maintained silence over the reasons for his rejection of the six researchers. Nonetheless, the 7-point drop in his support rate implies that this issue has not incited an expansive platform for criticism against the Cabinet.

    Regarding Prime Minister Suga mulling over a possible revision of the science council's makeup, 58% said it was "appropriate," more than double the 24% who said it wasn't. Another 18% told the survey they did not know whether or not it was appropriate. While opposition parties have criticized Suga's move as "a straw man argument," the latest poll showed that many supported reforming the science body.

    Asked for the reasons why they supported the Suga Cabinet, 35% said they believed they could expect good policies, the same percentage from the previous survey, followed by the 29% who said the current Cabinet was likely to inherit policies adopted by the government of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a 1-point drop from September. In addition, 25% said they had a favorable view of Suga's character, a 2-point drop since September and 6% said they supported the Cabinet because it is a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and Komeito coalition, compared to 5% who said so in the previous poll.

    Among those who did not support the Suga Cabinet, 35% told the survey that it was because it seemed unchanged from the Abe government, compared to 61% who said the same in the September survey, while 31% told the latest poll that they could not expect good policies, up from the 20% who gave the same answer two months ago. Those who said "I don't like Prime Minister Suga's character" jumped from 8% in the previous poll to 23%, while 9% said they did not support the Cabinet because it's an LDP-Komeito coalition, a 1-point drop from the last survey.

    Asked whether they appreciated the Suga administration's coronavirus measures, 34% said "Yes" while 27% answered "No." Thirty-nine percent told the survey they "could not say either way." The anti-pandemic measures under the Abe government saw a 29% approval rate in the Sept. 8 survey, far lower than the 47% who disapproved it. Another 24% was undecided on the matter.

    (Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department)

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