• JIJI, Kyodo

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Japan’s leaders have received the worst public rating for their response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a survey of 23 nations and regions.

Japan’s official infection rate and death toll aren’t necessarily high in global terms. But the way its leaders dealt with the crisis were rated poorest by citizens in all four fields — politics, business, community and media. The overall score, 16, was worst as well.

The online survey, the results of which were released Wednesday, was jointly conducted by Singapore’s Blackbox Research and France’s Toluna between April 3 and 19 on 12,592 people between the ages of 18 and 80. The margin of error was listed as 3 to 6 percent.

The findings included an extremely low support rating of 5 percent for Japan’s political leaders versus 86 percent for China, where the pandemic started, and 32 percent for the United States, now the hardest-hit region in the world. Even Hong Kong, which has the second-worst, received a support rating of 11 percent. The average for all 23 areas was 40 percent.

Japan’s low ratings are “in line with ongoing criticism” of the Abe government’s handling of the pandemic, “such as a perceived delay in declaring a state of emergency,” Blackbox Research CEO David Black said, adding that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe arguably failed to pass “the COVID-19 leadership stress test.”

The survey also found that China enjoyed the highest overall leadership score, at 85, while advanced countries other than New Zealand fared poorly overall, with France ranking second to last at 26.

Abe and his team are also under criticism domestically, with many in the public showing discontent with the government’s virus measures in another poll released last month.

The poll by the Gallup International Association said more than 60 percent of people surveyed in Japan last month said the government was not handling the coronavirus outbreak well.

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