Japan PM Fumio Kishida's support declines as country sees rising Covid cases

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government slipped in two major polls despite the approval rate remaining at the highest levels that any premier has seen in years.

Bloomberg | ByLingamgunta Nirmitha Rao

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government slipped in two major polls as the country battles record Covid cases but the approval rate still remained at some of the highest levels that any premier has seen in years.

Approval for Kishida’s cabinet fell 2 percentage points to 58% in a poll by the Nikkei newspaper from July 29 to 31, reaching its second-lowest level in its polling since he took office in October. The approval rate in a separate poll released Sunday by Kyodo News was at 51%, the lowest in its tracking for his government.

Despite the fall, Kishida still enjoys some of the highest numbers for any leader of a major democracy. His ruling Liberal Democratic Party scored a major victory in upper house elections in July two days after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The vote opened the way for a “golden three years” in which Kishida need not face another national election, and gave the premier time to advance his policies for economic recovery.

Also read | Japan Ruling Bloc Wins Big in Vote Held Days After Abe’s Murder

But concerns are mounting about surging coronavirus numbers after the World Health Organization said last week Japan topped the planet in new weekly Covid-19 cases. About half the polls to the Nikkei said they thought restrictions on activities were needed to curb the spread of infections.

Also Read | Japan warns of Covid-19 surge, Tokyo raises alert after highest cases recorded

Japan has posted one of the developed world’s lowest death rates from Covid-19 while avoiding lockdowns as businesses and eateries have largely abided by government requests at virus peaks to curb hours and operations. Residents embraced mask wearing during the early days of the pandemic and usage remains almost universal even though the government relaxed its recommendation for outdoors.

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