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Politics

Suga's approval rating plumbs new depths as emergency drags on

Over 60% of respondents want to delay Tokyo Olympics or call them off

A couple watches Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speak on a big screen in Tokyo on May 28. With the coronavirus state of emergency extended yet again, Suga's response to the pandemic has come under fire.   © AP

TOKYO -- The approval rating of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government fell 7 percentage points from April to 40% in a new Nikkei/TV Tokyo survey as public ire over the pandemic response flared anew under the extended state of emergency.

This marked the Suga government's lowest rating since he took office last September. The old bottom of 42% had been hit in that December, a month that saw rising new cases of COVID-19.

The weekend poll found that 64% of respondents did not approve of the government's coronavirus response -- more than double the 31% who did. A record 65% had said in April that they did not approve.

General disapproval of the Suga government came to 50%, matching the record high logged in January. Of those disapproving, 55% cited a lack of leadership, while 37% cited bad policies.

Still, respondents were supportive of the recent decision to extend the coronavirus emergency again in nine prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, especially given shortages of hospital beds in affected areas. While 77% said the extension was appropriate, just 17% said it was not.

Substantial opposition to the Tokyo Olympics persists. The games should be postponed or canceled, 62% of respondents said, while 33% said they should still be held this summer with fewer or no spectators. Just 1% said they should be held with a full audience.

In addition, 22% of respondents said the games may have to be delayed again unless infections slow, while 40% said they may need to be canceled altogether. The games had originally been scheduled for the summer of 2020.

Tokyo organizing committee President Seiko Hashimoto had spoken in April of holding the games without fans if necessary. But Suga expressed hope Friday that domestic spectators will be able to attend, citing other sporting events being held in Japan with limited audiences.

Support for Suga's ruling Liberal Democratic Party fell 5 points from April to 42% in the new poll, while the opposition Constitutional Democratic Party held roughly steady at 8%. The percentage of respondents identifying as independents rose 4 points to 33%.

The survey was conducted between Friday and Sunday via random-digit dialing. It drew 1,072 responses from people aged 18 or older, for a response rate of 47.7%.

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