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56% say Japan's COVID-19 vaccine rollout not going smoothly: Mainichi poll

A man receives a coronavirus vaccine shot at a Self-Defense Forces vaccination center in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward on June 17, 2021. (Mainichi/Yohei Koide)

A nationwide public opinion poll found that 56% of those surveyed do not think that Japan's vaccine rollout is going smoothly, down 4 percentage points from the previous survey conducted on June 19.

    The survey was conducted July 17 by the Mainichi Shimbun and the Social Survey Research Center.

    Meanwhile, 27% of those polled -- the same percentage as in the previous survey -- said that they believed the rollout was going smoothly, while 17% said they cannot say either way, down from 21% in the previous poll.

    The Japanese government has made it its goal to finish vaccinating those aged 65 and older by the end of July, and to finish vaccinating all others who want to be by the end of November. But the vaccine supply has been disrupted, and many local governments have stopped taking vaccine appointments, leading an increasing number of people to believe that the rollout is in trouble.

    Asked about their vaccination status, 29% of those polled said that they had been vaccinated, up from the 12% in the June survey, and 3% in the survey before that, taken on May 22. Those who said that they would "get vaccinated immediately" if they became eligible accounted for 50% of those polled, down from 57% in the June poll, while 15% said they would take a "wait and see" approach, down from 24% in the previous poll. Meanwhile, 4%, the same percentage as in the previous poll, said they would "not get the vaccination," and 1%, also the same figure as in the previous poll, said they "did not know."

    The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga sees vaccinations as the trump card to bringing the coronavirus crisis under control. But among those polled who said they were already vaccinated, less than 30% said they approved of the Suga Cabinet, which is not far off from the trend among all respondents.

    On July 12, the Japanese government declared Tokyo's fourth state of emergency over the coronavirus. Asked whether they believed the declarations curb the spread of infections, only 16% said they "believed they have an effect." Meanwhile, 66% of those surveyed said they "did not believe they have an effect," and 18% said they "could not say either way." The state of emergency is set to run until Aug. 22, meaning that in Tokyo, about 70% of all days this year up to that point will have been under a state of emergency. The emergency has become the new normal, leading many to believe that it does not impact people's behaviors much.

    Heavy rains have caused disasters in many parts of the country. When asked whether respondents believed that their communities were in danger of such disasters, 45% said they "believed they were in danger," while 37% said "they were not in danger," and 17% said they "did not know." By age group, over 40% among those between the ages of 18 to 69 said they "believed they were in danger," but among those 70 and older, less than 30% said so.

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's term as the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)'s president will end at the end of September. When those surveyed were asked how long they wanted him to serve as PM, only 14%, down 1 point from the previous poll, said they wanted him "to continue for as long as possible," while 45%, also down 1 point from the previous poll, said they wanted him "to continue until the end of his current term." Those who said they wanted him to "step down as soon as possible" accounted for 40% of respondents, up 1 point from the last poll.

    As for political party approval ratings, the LDP garnered the most support with 28%, down 2 points from the last survey. The main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) held steady at 10%, while the Japanese Communist Party (JCP)'s support rating rose by 1 point to 7%. Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party) kept its support rating at 6%, while Komeito was also unchanged at 4%, and the Democratic Party for the People (DPFP) kept its support rating at 1%. Support for Reiwa Shinsengumi was 1%, compared to 2% in the last poll. Respondents who said they supported no political party stood at 39%, down 1 point since the preceding poll.

    In a cellphone poll of 746 people, respondents were asked to name one political party that would be their choice for proportional representation seats in the next House of Representatives election. The responses are below, with percentages from the poll in June noted in parentheses.

    Liberal Democratic Party: 25% (23%), Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan: 13% (12%), Japanese Communist Party: 8% (5%), Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party): 6% (6%), Komeito: 3% (4%), Reiwa Shinsengumi: 2% (2%), Democratic Party for the People: 2% (1%), Social Democratic Party: 1% (1%), Arashi no to: 1% (0%)

    (Japanese original by Nanae Ito, Political News Department, and Shingo Okuma, Social Survey Research Center)

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