The approval rating for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plunged to an all-time low of 51% directly after a Cabinet reshuffle, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun nationwide opinion survey. This made for a 6 point drop from the previous survey.
According to an emergency public opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun on Wednesday and Thursday, the disapproval rate for the Cabinet hit a record high of 34%, up from 32% in the previous survey conducted on Aug. 5 to 7.
However, when compared to average approval ratings of cabinets led by the Liberal Democratic Party in recent years, support for the Kishida Cabinet remains high, given that the average approval rating was 56% for the Junichiro Koizumi cabinets; 47% for the first Shinzo Abe Cabinet; 38% for the Yasuo Fukuda Cabinet; 26% for the Taro Aso Cabinet; 53% for Abe’s second term as prime minister; and 48% the Yoshihide Suga Cabinet.
With regard to Kishida’s request that his new Cabinet members personally inspect and review their links to the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification — widely known as the Unification Church — 36% thought Kishida’s request was an adequate response, while 55% said it wasn’t.
The survey showed that voters remain critical of links between the Unification Church and political parties such as the LDP.
Forty-five percent said they support the Cabinet reshuffle as a whole, while 34% said they do not.
When asked to rate the appointment of Taro Kono as the digital minister, 63% said they support the move and 21% said they do not. Regarding the appointment of Koichi Hagiuda as the chairperson of the LDP’s Policy Research Council, 32% said they support it and 40% said they do not.
Asked how long they would like Kishida to continue as prime minister, 45% said “until September 2024, when the LDP president’s term expires,” down from 52% in the July survey, followed by “as long as possible” at 21%, down from 27% in the last survey, and “about a year” at 19%, up from 12%.
The percentage of those who said they would like to see Kishida replaced immediately accounted for 10% of respondents, compared to 6% in the previous survey.
The results showed a downward trend in the number of respondents who want the administration to continue long-term.
When asked which party they supported, 35% of respondents chose the LDP, down from 38% in the previous survey, marking the lowest percentage since the Kishida Cabinet was formed. 37% of independent voters chose the LDP compared to 36% in the previous survey.
Support for the opposition parties remained virtually unchanged, with 6% choosing the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and 5% the Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Innovation Party). 37% of respondents described themselves as independent voters, up from 36% in the previous survey.
Unusual drop in support
The drop in support for the Kishida Cabinet following the reshuffle is unusual given that reshuffles typically raise people’s expectations for the Cabinet.
In the 17 previous Cabinet reshuffles since the first Koizumi Cabinet, including reshuffles for cabinets led by the now-defunct Democratic Party of Japan, the approval rating fell immediately after a Cabinet reshuffle on three occasions, remained unchanged twice and rose on 12 occasions.
During Abe’s second stint as prime minister, there was only one drop in six reshuffles of the cabinets.
The survey was conducted by calling 770 households and 1,605 users of mobile phones using random digit dialing. All respondents were eligible voters age 18 or older. A total of 1,095 respondents gave valid answers, with 448 valid answers on landline phones and 647 on mobile phones.