Fumio Kishida, Prime Minister of Japan, speaks at a press conference at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence in Tokyo, Japan, October 4, 2021. Toru Hanai / Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) – A series of local media polls showed on Tuesday that Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is struggling to gain a foothold in voters just two days after he was elected and inaugurated the new government.

At the lower end, daily Asahi estimates Kishida’s support rate at 45%, while Mainichi estimates it at 49%. The more conservative Yomiuri said 56% support his government, while the Nikkei index supports 59%.

In all opinion polls, support for the new Kishida government has been weaker than that of his predecessor, Yoshihide Sugi, when he took power last year, with Asahi scoring by 20 percentage points.

“I am aware of the results of the survey, but I also think there is a big gap depending on the company that conducted the survey,” Kishida told reporters Wednesday morning.

“However, based on these results – including low rates of support – I will reflect on my actions and continue to work hard in the upcoming elections,” he added.

While Kishida’s ratings for the new government are low, they are still higher than Suga’s direct ratings, which has become deeply unpopular during his tenure as he struggled to contain the fifth wave of the variable coronavirus infection in the Delta, which has worsened.

Kishida said October 14 will dissolve the lower house of parliament, with parliamentary elections to be held on October 31, with the management of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery turning into major issues.

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Among the single constituencies, the Mainichi poll found that 41% of respondents would vote for the ruling coalition, 34% would vote for the opposition, and 24% were undecided. Yomiuri reported 43% support for the Kishida Liberal Democratic Party, up 7 percentage points from the previous poll.

The prime minister presented his new government on Monday. While more than half the cabinet positions were filled with new faces, former Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe and allies of Taro Aso were also well represented, indicating their continued influence. Continue reading

Sakura Murakami reports. Editing by Jerry Doyle

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