Japan PM Kishida’s support sinks to record low amid Covid-19 spike, debate over Abe state funeral

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG, XINHUA, REUTERS) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s approval rating sank to the lowest since he took office last October in a Kyodo News poll amid a national resurgence in coronavirus cases and debate over assassinated former premier Shinzo Abe’s state funeral.

The public opinion survey, which was taken this weekend, showed that his cabinet’s support rate dropped by 12.2 percentage points from a poll conducted on July 11 and 12 to 51 per cent.

As the nation’s coronavirus cases spike, those expressing support for the government’s Covid-19 response fell by 7.7 points to 53.3 per cent, according to the poll. More than 60 per cent of responds showed discontent with how the administration is tackling the recent rise in prices, the survey also showed.

Japan is now recording the highest weekly coronavirus cases in the world, according to data compiled by the World Health Organisation, with 1.33 million cases logged in the past seven day, followed by the US with 903,803 cases.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Sunday (July 31) reported 31,541 new coronavirus infections. The capital’s daily record was on Thursday with 40,406 cases logged.

Public disagreement over the state funeral for assassinated former leader Shinzo Abe was also seen as contributing to the drop in support for Kishida’s government.

Among those surveyed, 53.3 per cent said they were opposed to the state funeral for Abe, while 61.9 per cent said it was necessary to hold a parliamentary debate on the state funeral.

Abe died last month after being fatally shot during a July 8 campaign stump speech.

The state funeral for Abe, Japan’s longest-serving but divisive premier, will be held on Sept 27 at Tokyo’s Nippon Budokan, and it will be paid for by state funds.

The government’s decision to hold a state funeral for the former prime minister drew strong criticism from the opposition and the public who said there are no legal provisions for holding such a funeral.

The last fully state-financed funeral for an ex-prime minister was in 1967, with later ones funded jointly by the state and the Liberal Democratic Party, of which Abe remained an influential member.

The telephone poll surveyed 509 randomly selected households with eligible voters on landline phones and 1,877 mobile phone numbers, receiving valid responses from 425 people from households and 625 mobile phone users.