Japanese Prime Minister Kishida’s support plummets, hit by questions about church and COVID

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks during a news conference at the Prime Minister’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan August 10, 2022. Rodrigo Reyes Marin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

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TOKYO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government has plummeted, battered by questions about the ruling party’s ties to the Unification Church and its response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a public opinion poll.

Ties to the church, founded in South Korea in the 1950s and famous for its mass marriages, have become a headache for Kishida since July 8, when former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed. his alleged killer said his mother was bankrupted by the church and framed Abe for his promotion.

According to a poll conducted over the weekend by the Mainichi Shimbun daily, Kishida’s support has fallen to 36% from 52% a month ago, the lowest since he took office last October.

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Those who thought the ties between the Unification Church and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Kishida were either “an extreme problem” or “something of a problem” reached 87%. Only 4% thought it was not a problem at all.

Kishida reshuffled his cabinet on August 10 and removed some cabinet members with church ties in a bid to build support, but 68% of those polled said they disagreed with the move compared to just 16 % who did.

“When it comes to issues related to the Unification Church, we should pay enough attention to relations with organizations that are socially criticized, so that people don’t have to worry,” the secretary said. Cabinet Chief Hirokazu Matsuno at a regular press conference.

New coronavirus cases remain consistently high, prompting 55% of those polled to say they did not approve of the government’s handling of the situation. On Sunday, Kishida himself tested positive for coronavirus, forcing him to cancel a trip to an aid conference in Tunisia. Read more

Matsuno said Kishida’s condition is stable and he will work remotely until August 30.

On the issue of Abe’s state funeral scheduled for September 27, which will be paid for by the government, 53% said they were against the idea.

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Reporting by Elaine Lies and Ju-min Park; Editing by Stephen Coates

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