The largest proportion of the public wants new Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi to become the next prime minister, but he has suffered a decline in popularity while watching support for Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga surge, a Jiji Press opinion survey for October showed Friday.
Koizumi, who took his first ministerial post in a Cabinet reshuffle in September, was chosen as the best person to become next prime minister by 18.8 percent of respondents, topping the list of possible candidates.
But his support rate fell 5.6 points from the March survey, which asked the same question.
Shigeru Ishiba, former secretary-general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, came second with support from 15.8 percent, down from 18.9 percent, followed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with 10.3 percent, down from 14.2 percent.
Suga enjoyed a surge in his support rate, rising to fourth place with 8.0 percent from seventh place with 1.6 percent, apparently reflecting his higher name recognition after announcing the new imperial era name Reiwa on April 1 during a closely watched news conference on TV.
Among other post-Abe candidates, LDP Policy Research Council Chairman Fumio Kishida was chosen by 7.5 percent, up from 5.1 percent, Defense Minister Taro Kono by 5.7 percent, up from 1.9 percent, and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi by 1.7 percent, up from 0.1 percent.
Among respondents who support the LDP, Abe came first with 20.8 percent, followed by Koizumi with 15.2 percent, Ishiba with 14.6 percent, Suga with 12.6 percent, Kishida with 12.3 percent, Kono with 9.4 percent and Motegi with 3.2 percent.
The interview-based survey was conducted for four days through Monday on 2,000 people aged 18 or older across the country. Valid responses came from 62.2 percent.