Suga Cabinet’s Approval Rating Falls to 61% amid Virus Surge, Go To Woes

The approval rating for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet has fallen by eight percentage points to 61% in December from the previous month, while the disapproval rating has risen by five points to 27%, apparently influenced by a sharp increase in the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus, a nationwide poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun between Friday and Sunday showed.

Asked about Go To Travel, the government’s domestic travel support campaign, respondents who said that the campaign “should continue” stands at 21%, while 57% said it “should be suspended temporarily” and 20% said it “should be ended.” Altogether nearly 80% of respondents considered the campaign in a negative light.

About 49% of respondents had an unfavorable view of the government’s overall handling of the coronavirus, up 10 percentage points from the previous poll taken between Nov. 6-8, while 42% of them viewed it favorably, down 14 percentage points.

The poll also found that 67% of respondents said that former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s responsibility is “grave” for saying in the Diet that there were no expenditures by his support organization, in connection with the allegation that the organization covered part of the expenses for dinner parties it hosted on the eve of cherry-blossom viewing events hosted by Abe. It also found that 72% of respondents said Abe should explain himself regarding this matter, while 24% said he does not have to do so.

Regarding the effort made by mobile phone operators that have announced lowered fee plans in response to the government’s request, 50% of respondents said their effort is “insufficient,” while 39% said it is “sufficient.”

When asked which party respondents support, 42% said the Liberal Democratic Party, down from 48% previously, 5% said the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, up from 4% previously, while 40% said no particular party, up from 36%.

In response to a question about people taking trips or visiting relatives in their hometown during the New Year’s period, 75% of respondents said “people should refrain from doing so, as there is a danger of spreading infections,” considerably surpassing the 23% who said “there would be no problem as long as people thoroughly take measures to prevent infection.”

In the poll taken from Aug. 7 to 9, when the country was hit by a second wave of infections, 76% of respondents said people should refrain from making similar visits to hometowns during the Bon Festival holidays, while 22% said there was “no problem” in doing so.

By region, the percentage of respondents who said people should refrain from taking New Year’s trips or visits stood in the 80% range in the Chugoku, Shikoku and Kyushu regions, and in the 70% range for other regions. By age, 65% of respondents 18-39 said so, 72% of respondents 40-59 said likewise, and 85% of respondents 60 and over said so.

After the passage of a vaccination-related law on Dec. 2, residents are eligible to receive a free vaccine when one becomes available. When respondents were asked whether they want to be vaccinated, 15% said they want to be vaccinated immediately while 69% said they would like to but were not in a hurry, and 15% said they do not want to be vaccinated.