Approval of Japan PM Kishida’s govt hits new low, no help from economic plan
Published: Oct 31, 2022 11:14 PM
Public approval ratings for the government of Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida touched a new low in one opinion poll and clung near lows in another, hit by his party's ties to a controversial church and doubts about a massive spending plan.

Support slid to 42 percent in a poll conducted by the Nikkei newspaper at the weekend, the lowest since Kishida took office in October 2021. Approval edged up slightly in a Kyodo news agency survey to 37.6 percent from 35 percent at the start of October.

The announcement of a $200 billion economic stimulus package has not helped lift Kishida's approval ratings significantly, nor has last week's ­resignation of economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa for his connection to the Unification Church, whose ties to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are being investigated in connection with the July 8 assassination of former premier Shinzo Abe.

The Unification Church, founded in South Korea in the 1950s and famous for its mass weddings, has been fending off criticism for the means by which it collects donations.

The suspect in Abe's shooting bore a grudge against the church, alleging it bankrupted his mother, and blamed Abe for promoting it, according to his social media posts and news reports.

The LDP has since acknowledged that many lawmakers had individual ties to the church but said there was no organisational link to the party.

Kishida announced an investigation into the church earlier in October, and 78 percent of respondents to the Nikkei poll said the government should call on the church to disband. Only 14 percent opposed such action.

In the Kyodo poll, nearly 80 percent of respondents thought the LDP should expand its investigation into the church. 

At its peak, support for Kishida's ­government hovered over 60 percent. A poll earlier in October showed it had slid to 27.4 percent, a level low enough to make it difficult to carry out policy.