G7 Summit Helps Boost Approval Rating for Kishida Cabinet

The Yomiuri Shimbun
From left, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, U.S. President Joe Biden, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy are seen after a photo session at the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima on Sunday.

Hope has spread among members of the government and the ruling parties that the recovery in the approval rating for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet, as seen in the latest Yomiuri Shimbun survey, will boost the administration. Meanwhile, opposition parties have voiced caution about an early dissolution of the House of Representatives for a snap election.

The nationwide survey conducted on Saturday and Sunday found the Cabinet approval rate had recovered to 56%, exceeding 50% for the first time in eight months. It is believed within the government and the ruling parties that the government’s diplomatic achievements have been highly regarded, including those related to the Group of Seven summit.

Toshimitsu Motegi, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, stressed Sunday that Kishida’s leadership, as the G7 summit chair, in reinforcing unity against Russia was well received.

“Prime Minister Kishida welcomed Ukrainian President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy to Hiroshima, and he has gotten credit for his leadership in unifying the international community,” Motegi said.

Makoto Nishida, who heads the election strategy committee of the LDP’s ruling coalition Komeito, agreed. “Demonstrating the G7’s solidarity to the world was a great achievement. This has become a tailwind for the administration,” Nishida said.

In a survey conducted shortly after Kishida took office in October 2021, his Cabinet’s approval rating was 56%. Battered by problems such as those with the Unification Church, officially known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, the approval rating dropped to 36% in November last year, but has been recovering since then.

Although it remains well below its peak of 66% marked in January 2022, the Kishida Cabinet has seen its approval figure return to the level at the time of its inauguration.

In addition to the positive effects of the G7 summit, the absence of significant negative factors for the administration, its response to policy issues and steady diplomatic achievements have also contributed to the boost in the Cabinet approval rating, a senior government official said.

As support continues to rise, calls for an early dissolution of the lower house have been simmering within the LDP. “If the approval rating increases, calls for the dissolution will come from within the party,” an LDP senior official said.

The opposition parties have accelerated their preparations for a possible snap election.

A senior official of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan indicated that the party would hasten the selection of its candidates. “Conditions for an early dissolution are now coming in place,” the official said.

At a convention of the CDPJ’s Tochigi prefectural chapter on the same day, CDPJ President Kenta Izumi expressed his determination to increase his party’s seats in the next lower house election.

“Remember the former Democratic Party of Japan. We can win a majority [of seats],” Izumi said, referring to a forerunner of the CDPJ that once took power.

After the convention, Izumi praised the government’s achievements at the G7 summit but said they would not boost voter support for the ruling parties.

“It would be a mistake to think that the heat of the summit will swing voters,” he told reporters.

Fumitake Fujita, secretary general of Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party), said: “We can expect a dissolution of the lower house at the end of the ordinary Diet session. So we’ll work to present a solid alternative option to counter the LDP.”

The outcome of the G7 summit has also been praised by some members of the opposition parties. “It’s laudable that [Kishida] was able to send out a powerful message together with other G7 leaders,” said Yuichiro Tamaki, the leader of the Democratic Party for the People.

Ishin’s Fujita said, “It became a good opportunity to show the G7’s solidarity.”