Plunge in Approval Rating: Kishida Should Reexamine Management of His Administration

Politics will not move forward if the prime minister is overconfident in the system led by the Prime Minister’s Office and fails to provide careful explanations and prior coordination. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida needs to reevaluate the way he manages his administration.

According to a November public opinion survey conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun, the approval rating for the Kishida Cabinet plunged by 10 percentage points from the previous month to 24%. This is the lowest figure since the Kishida administration was launched in October 2021, and the first time that a cabinet approval rating has fallen into the 20% range since the Liberal Democratic Party returned to power at the end of 2012.

The prime minister himself must be displeased with this plunge in the approval rating, as Kishida has not been personally involved in any scandals or misconduct.

In the survey, 61% of respondents “do not think well” of the government’s decision to cut income and other taxes by fixed amounts. The most common reason was that it “looks like an election measure,” at 44%.

The Kishida Cabinet had been discussing ways to secure fiscal resources to strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities and counter the declining birth rate. However, when criticism of higher taxes intensified, the prime minister abruptly announced tax cuts.

The recent poll indicates that the public feels the tax cut is an attempt to curry favor ahead of the next House of Representatives elections. After a cabinet reshuffle, the resignations of two state ministers and a parliamentary vice minister due to wrongdoing may also have had an impact.

However, the approval rating has been on a downward trend since June.

During the last ordinary Diet session, as problems with the My Number individual identification system surfaced one after another, the Kishida administration unilaterally decided to abolish the current public health insurance cards next autumn and integrate their functions with My Number cards. Many citizens are concerned about My Number cards that also serve as health insurance cards.

The Kishida administration also pushed to pass a law for the promotion of the understanding of LGBT sexual minorities without sufficient discussion, despite the fact that the definition of “unjust discrimination” is unclear and other problems remain regarding the legislation.

The prime minister reportedly ordered that work be done to establish the law before the summit of the Group of Seven advanced countries that was held in Hiroshima.

This legislation is said to have caused conservatives to turn away from Kishida.

In the case of the Abe Cabinet, which was in power for a long time, approval among LDP supporters for the Cabinet averaged 90%, but the latest survey had this figure at only 53%.

The Kishida Cabinet is addressing timely issues, such as strengthening defense capabilities and the declining birth rate. At the same time, however, questions remain over policymaking methods.

Whether the subject is extraordinary measures to deal with the birth rate or tax cuts, the prime minister seems to be relying heavily on the arbitrary thoughts of some Diet members who are his close aides.

Kishida appears unable to devise specific measures and allocate fiscal resources because he does not sufficiently coordinate with the government and the ruling parties.

The prime minister is at a critical juncture. It is important for him to sincerely reflect on his past management of political situations.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 21, 2023)