- POLITICS & GOVERNMENT
Cabinet Approval Rating Shows Slight Boost for Kishida
15:15 JST, February 20, 2023
The approval rating for the Kishida Cabinet was 41%, up 2 percentage points from the previous month, according to a nationwide public opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun on Feb. 17-19.
This was the first time in four months that support for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s administration was in the 40% range.
The disapproval rating was 47%, unchanged from the previous poll conducted Jan. 13-15.
As for the government’s response to deal with COVID-19, 60% of respondents said they rated it highly, up 4 points from the previous poll, while those who disagreed were 5 percentage points fewer at 32%.
The upturn in the positive response has much to do with the recent development that the end appears to be in sight regarding the pandemic. The government decided to have COVID-19 downgraded on May 8 from the current equivalent to Category II to Category V, the same as the seasonal flu, under the Infectious Diseases Control Law.
From March 13 onward, individuals will not be asked to wear masks unless they want to, in principle. But the trend of people wearing masks is likely to continue for the time being.
When asked whether respondents want to wear masks in the future, 60% of them said they would like to as much as possible, while 34% of them said otherwise. By gender, 51% of men and 69% of women said they wanted to wear masks.
Regarding objects flying over Japanese airspace in the last few years that are suspected of being unmanned Chinese surveillance balloons, the poll asked what respondents thought of the government’s suggested policy of easing the criteria for the Self-Defense Forces to use weapons to down such objects intruding into Japanese airspace. Supporting the policy were 70% of respondents, while 22% were not in support.
Friday marks one year since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine. As to whether the Japanese government should reinforce its support for Ukraine, 64% of respondents said they thought so, while 24% of them said otherwise.
Low hopes on raising birth rate
When asked whether Kishida’s policy of greatly expanding support for child-rearing will lead to an improvement in the nation’s declining birthrate, 27% of respondents said they expected it to, while 64% of them said they did not thnk so.
Even among respondents saying they support the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito, the percentage of those who said they did not expect it to improve stood at 53%. Among those who support opposition parties, this answer reached 80%, and for those with no particular party affiliation it was 69%.
In the previous poll, the overall percentage of those who rated this policy highly stood at 58%. The big difference this time might be because, although Kishida made clear his intention of realizing a marked increase in the budget related to measures to tackle the declining birth rate, concrete measures have yet to be spelled out.
The low percentage of those who have expectations for the government’s measures might also have to do with the critical situation that the yearly number of births in Japan last year is projected to fall below the 800,000 mark for the first time on record.
Regarding the idea of the government removing the income limit for parents to receive child allowances, 47% of respondents approve of it, while 45% of them said otherwise.
The impact of inflation has also become more serious.
As to whether respondents’ households feel the burden of rising prices, 91% of them said they did, up from 86% when asked a similar question in October 2022. This time, 60% of them said they felt it considerably, a marked increase from the 37% posted in the October poll.
When asked which party respondents supported, 35% chose the Liberal Democratic Party, down 1 point from January, and 6% the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, unchanged from the previous poll. Respondents who said there was no particular party they supported was at 39%, down 2 points from the January poll.
The February poll was conducted using the random digit dialing method. The 1,044 respondents were eligible voters ages 18 and over. For landlines, 410 people out of 744 households provided valid responses. For mobile phones, 634 out of 1,603 people provided valid responses.
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