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Reform minister Taro Kono most favored for Japan PM as Suga slips to 3rd: Mainichi poll

Minister in charge of Administrative Reform Taro Kono is seen in this file photo. (Mainichi/Tomohisa Yazu)

TOKYO -- Minister in charge of Administrative Reform Taro Kono has unseated incumbent Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in being named the politician most favored to be Japan's premier, according to a survey conducted on Jan. 16 by the Mainichi Shimbun and Social Survey Research Center.

    In the nationwide survey answered by 711 respondents using their mobile phones, individuals were asked to name one person they felt was appropriate to be Japan's prime minister after the next election of the House of Representatives.

    Administrative reform minister Kono was the most cited name, voted for by 85 people, or 12% of respondents. He was closely followed by Shigeru Ishiba, former secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the favorite in last November's survey, dropped from first to third place.

    With the term for lower house members ending in October this year, much political attention is being paid to when Suga will dissolve the Diet to call a snap election. An LDP presidential race could take place in September. As the Suga Cabinet's approval ratings plummet, the survey's results suggest it is difficult to predict who could be the next prime minister.

    Excluding Kono's results, the survey showed in descending order that Ishiba was in second place with support from 73 people (10%), one spot up from his ranking on Nov. 7, 2020. Fifty-nine people (8%) named current Prime Minister Suga, taking him two spots down. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Minister of the Environment Shinjiro Koizumi were both cited by 25 people (4%), putting them up one and two spots, respectively.

    Yukio Edano, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, was in sixth place with 18 respondents (3%) naming him, pushing him two spots down on last time. Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and former Osaka Gov. Toru Hashimoto each came in seventh place, with 16 respondents (2%) naming them. Both were up, with Koike coming from 15th place and Hashimoto from eighth. Fumio Kishida, former LDP Policy Research Council chairman, came in ninth place with 12 respondents naming him and was one place higher. Current Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura was in two ranks up to make 10th place with 11 respondents naming him.

    (Japanese original by Shingo Okuma, Poll Office)

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