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Kishida Cabinet’s approval rating at 55.9%, down 4.1 points: Kyodo poll

The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stood at 55.9 percent, down 4.1 points from the previous survey in December, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday, as Japan grapples with recent surges in COVID-19 infections driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

The two-day telephone survey through Sunday found the disapproval rate was up 2.5 points to 25.2 percent and also showed that 89.7 percent plan to refrain from dining and traveling in the wake of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Among respondents who said they approve of the Cabinet, 17.7 percent said they trust the prime minister and 8.6 percent said they pin their hopes on the government’s economic policies.

In contrast, among those who said they do not support the Cabinet, 28.3 percent said they cannot expect much from the economic policies, while 19.5 percent feel Kishida lacks leadership qualities.

With the rapidly rising infection count nationwide raising concerns over the strain on the medical system, the Japanese government has now placed 16 prefectures including Tokyo under a quasi-state of emergency.

The poll showed 50.2 percent feel the implementation of the quasi-state of emergency came too late, while 40.4 percent said the timing was appropriate.

The emergency allows prefectural governors to ask restaurants and bars to close early and stop or limit the serving of alcohol. Several more areas have officially sought or are preparing to seek similar requests.

According to the survey, 76.5 percent said they fear being infected with the Omicron variant.

The poll also showed that 47.9 percent want to take the third vaccine dose as soon as possible.

Kishida has said the government aims to give third shots to senior citizens at a faster pace and begin the booster program for others in March, earlier than previously planned.

Tokyo, which has been hitting new records of coronavirus cases in recent days, confirmed 9,468 new cases Sunday, down from 11,227 on Saturday, the metropolitan government said.

Many areas have been struggling with what has become the country’s sixth wave of infections. Since the country confirmed its first case of Omicron on Nov. 30, the number of COVID-19 cases increased 100 times in three weeks, rising to 54,576 cases on Saturday from 534 logged on Jan. 1.

Regarding two options that the government submitted to the Diet aimed at stopping Japan’s royal family from shrinking further, 75.3 percent showed support for having female members who marry commoners retain their imperial status, while 54.4 percent backed a plan allowing male heirs from former branches to be adopted into the imperial family.

The law currently stipulates that female royals leave the imperial family upon marrying a commoner.

Asked which political party they will support in the upper house election in summer, 38.3 percent responded the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, while 15.3 percent cited the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

By political party, the LDP was supported by 44.2 percent, followed by the CDPJ at 13.1 percent and another opposition party, the Japan Innovation Party, at 12.5 percent.

The LDP’s junior coalition partner Komeito got 4.1 percent and the Japanese Communist Party was chosen by 3.8 percent.

The survey, covering 639 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,739 mobile phone numbers, yielded responses from 534 and 525 people, respectively.

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