Kishida suffers low support from young people

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Fumio Kishida

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has failed to win the hearts of young people, unlike his predecessors Shinzo Abe and Yoshihide Suga, analysis of Jiji Press survey results has shown.

The difference may stem from a lack of a reformist image for Kishida’s administration, according to an expert in politics.

Support rates for Kishida’s cabinet tend to drop as the ages of respondents go down, according to the results of the Jiji Press monthly opinion poll on voters.

Among all generations, support for his cabinet has averaged 42.7% since his inauguration in October 2021, while the share is only 33.7% among people aged under 30.

The averages among people in their 70s or over, 60s, 50s, 40s and 30s were 49.9%, 44.3%, 42.3%, 41.5% and 37.6%, respectively.

The trend is clearly different from that for the cabinets led by Abe and Suga.

For Abe, public support averaged 45.9% among all generations and 43.7% among people under 30 during his second tenure as prime minister between December 2012 and September 2020. The ratings stood at 36.7% and 36.0% for Suga, who served as prime minister between Abe and Kishida.

The Kishida administration does not seem reformist, said Hitotsubashi University professor Koji Nakakita, an expert in contemporary politics.

The administration “looks inclined to go back to the Liberal Democratic Party’s old ways of policies and governance,” he said.

“It has not been able to satisfy the wish of young people who want the current situation changed for the better,” Nakakita said, adding that Abe showed “some degree of reformist attitude.”

Some experts have cited a conservative tilt of young people as a factor that supported Abe’s long-term tenure.

In the monthly opinion poll, respondents are asked to choose one from “support,” “do not support” and “do not know.” The Kishida cabinet is characterized by the large proportion of young respondents choosing “do not know.”

Respondents who chose “do not know” accounted for 30.0% among all generations and 43.4% among people under 30.

“The Suga administration was said to have no philosophy, but he laid out policies that are easy to understand, such as mobile phone fee cuts. It’s difficult to see what the Kishida administration wants to do,” Nakakita said.

So, what element does Kishida lack? The keyword indicated by the survey results is “expectation.”

In the survey, those who answered that they do not support the Kishida cabinet were asked to give reasons, with multiple answers allowed.

The most cited reason has been “no expectations” consistently since the inauguration.

The proportion of respondents who chose the answer was around 10% until July this year. But as overall public support fell, the share began to rise, reaching 25.1% in December.

Nakakita’s analysis is that Kishida’s failure to deliver a “consistent message” on such issues as his signature “new capitalism” initiative has caused disappointment.

“There is no enthusiasm for Kishida, especially among young people,” Nakakita said. “I think the cabinet is being viewed as only responding to emerging situations.”