Cost of Living Key to Boosting Kishida’s Approval Rating

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

The stagnant approval rating of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in a recent nationwide poll has indicated his administration will continue to face diffculties. The focal point will be whether Kishida can turn things around through an expected Cabinet reshuffle, executive appointments within the party and major economic measures.

“The approval rating has not increased despite the fact that our policies have been implemented properly,” Liberal Democratic Party Vice President Taro Aso said Sunday in a speech in Tokushima.

The recent Yomiuri Shimbun opinion poll saw public opinion highly rate Aug. 18’s Japan-U.S.-South Korea summit meeting and the ocean release of treated water from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. A senior government official said, “We had hoped that the diplomatic achievements would boost the approval rating, but they did not have much effect.”

Komeito’s Electoral Policy Committee Chairman Makoto Nishida said, “It is not clear whether the rating has stopped falling or will remain low,” but added that “the government’s measures are still insufficient to cope with the prolonged high prices that undermine people’s lives.”

Leadership in focus

Kishida’s leadership in dealing with high prices and a series of problems involving the My Number identification card system is under intense scrutiny.

Aware of these criticisms, Kishida met directly with fishermen on the matter of the Fukushima treated water release, ordered his party on Aug. 22 to compile a list of measures to deal with soaring fuel prices by the end of the month, and told reporters he intends to put economic measures in place. By making his leadership clear, Kishida apparently is eager to gain the public’s understanding.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at a meeting of the Headquarters for the Overall Review of My Number Information at the Prime Minister’s Office on Aug. 8.

Decline in unity

If the approval rating remains flat, Kishida’s unifying power could be dampened as there will be an increased desire within the ruling party to avoid a dissolution of the House of Representatives and a subsequent general election.

“Now is the time for patience,” a senior LDP official said. “We have no choice but to renew personnel and have the prime minister come to the fore to achieve results one by one.”