• Kyodo

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More than 80 percent of the public believes the government should compensate businesses that have complied with a request to suspend operations in response to a surge in coronavirus infections in Tokyo and other parts of Japan, according to a Kyodo News survey released Monday.

Conducted by telephone over the four days through Monday, 80.4 percent of respondents from across Japan said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s declaration of a state of emergency last week in Tokyo, Osaka and five other prefectures came too late.

In reflection of such criticism, the public approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet fell 5.1 percentage points from the previous survey in late March to 40.4 percent. The disapproval rate came to 43 percent.

According to the latest survey, 82 percent said the government should compensate businesses in exchange for suspending operations to prevent the coronavirus from spreading, while 12.4 percent said they see no such a need.

Under the declaration effective through May 6, prefectural governors can request that businesses halt operations, although it is not legally binding.

While 80.4 percent were dissatisfied with the timing of Abe declaring a state of emergency, only 16.3 percent said it was an appropriate act.

The survey showed 76.2 percent do not appreciate the government’s decision to send two cloth masks to each of the roughly 50 million households in Japan, while 21.6 percent said they appreciate it.

The distribution, which will start later this month, has been criticized as a waste of taxpayer money, with many doubting its efficacy in preventing the spread of the virus.

The survey respondents were also critical of the government’s plan to provide ¥300,000 to some households as part of efforts to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic, with only 20.4 percent saying the measure is appropriate and 10.7 percent believing the amount is not sufficient.

A total of 60.9 percent said the government should provide a uniform cash handout to each household.

The handout only applies to those whose income has fallen by more than half, or slipped to a level that would allow residential tax exemptions due to the outbreak of the virus.

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