• Kyodo

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The approval rate for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet fell sharply to 50.3% from last month’s 63.0%, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday, as the government struggles to rejuvenate the economy amid a resurgence in coronavirus infections.

As the deepening health crisis has also affected the plan to host the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics next summer, more than 60% of those survey called for revising the plan, including 32.2% demanding that the events be put off again and 29.0% saying they should be canceled.

It was the first time since June 2017 that the support rate for a Cabinet had dropped more than 10 points. The administration then was headed by Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe.

The disapproval rate rose to 32.8% from 19.2%, according to the two-day telephone survey conducted over the weekend.

The government is trying to help revive the economy by supporting the pandemic-hit tourism industry with its Go To Travel subsidy campaign. But 48.1% of those surveyed said it should suspend the program nationwide due to fears that encouraging people to travel will spread the virus and increase the number of infections.

That compares with 11.6% who believe the government is managing the program appropriately. The authorities have limited the use of the campaign for residents in some areas to prevent further infections.

Asked what policies the government should prioritize, 76.2% said preventing infections rather than stimulating the economy.

For the year-end and New Year holidays, 83.6% said they are not planning any trips, while 7.2% said they have plans.

As for the government’s overall response to the pandemic, 55.5% viewed it as inadequate, outstripping the 37.1% who appreciated it.

The survey also found that 77.4% were not satisfied with the account given by Abe over the allegation that his support group had illegally used political funds to pay for dinner parties for voters from his constituency.

The suspicion also affects Suga, who was one of his closest aides until Abe stepped down in September for health reasons.

While in office, Abe denied in the Diet that the group had made up the difference for the party costs. Recently he justified his remarks, saying he had only told the Diet what he believed was the true at that time.

In the poll, 60.5% said Abe should be summoned by the Diet for questioning over the controversy, against 34.5% who believe it is unnecessary.

The survey, reaching 722 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,248 mobile phone numbers, yielded responses from 524 and 519, respectively.

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