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Politics

Suga cabinet's approval rating sinks to 34% as Olympics start

Discontent with weak leadership sends public support to a new low

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, center, attends a cabinet meeting on July 20. (Photo by Uichiro Kasai)

TOKYO -- The approval rating of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government tumbled 9 percentage points from June to 34% in a new Nikkei/TV Tokyo survey amid public disappointment in its leadership as the nation hosts the long-delayed Summer Olympics.

The rating plumbed a new low since Suga took office last September, slipping beneath the 40% nadir marked in May. The last time a cabinet approval rating fell under 40% was in June 2020, when it hit 38% for the government of then-Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Now the 34% rating puts the government in bleak territory not seen since November 2012, when the old Democratic Party of Japan was in power.

Respondents disapproving of the cabinet rose 7 percentage points to 57% -- the highest reading in data going back to December 2012, the month Abe returned as prime minister. More people disapproved than approved for a third straight month. Approval was registered by 41% of people aged 18 to 39, compared with 32% of those in their 40s and 50s and 32% for those 60 and older.

The top reason for disapproval was "lack of leadership," cited by 53%, followed by "poor management of the government and party" at 35%. The most popular reason for approving of the cabinet was that "the Liberal Democratic Party plays a central role," cited by 36%.

Those believing that Japan's COVID-19 vaccination drive is not going well rose for the first time since the question was added to the survey in April. Respondents saying vaccinations "are not going smoothly" climbed 6 points to 65%, while those saying they "are going smoothly" sank 9 points to 29%. A supply shortage has led companies and local governments to stop taking reservations.

Support for Suga's ruling LDP fell 5 points to 38% in the new poll, while the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party held roughly steady at 9%. The percentage of respondents identifying as independents rose 4 points to 35%.

The survey was conducted between Friday and Sunday via random-digit dialing. It drew 998 responses from people aged 18 or older, for a response rate of 47.1%.

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