Fumio Kishida’s emergence last year as Japan’s third prime minister in 13 months prompted worry that Tokyo was sinking into another period of revolving-door leadership. He now looks increasingly likely to govern the country for years.

Kishida’s tough stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and cautious response to the omicron variant-driven surge of the coronavirus have swung previously skeptical voters behind the former foreign minister, with many media surveys showing support rates at their highest since he took office in October. A victory in Upper House elections next month would give the prime minister as long as three years without the need to face another test at the polls.

"Kishida is doing things very flexibly,” said Mieko Nakabayashi, a former lawmaker turned politics professor at Waseda University in Tokyo, who cited his sensitivity to public opinion on virus measures and willingness to shift on security policy. "He’s not going to extremes or sticking with stubborn beliefs. He is really trying to be flexible, listen to the people and calculate the situation.”