The approval rate for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet keeps falling, with the latest Kyodo News survey showing Sunday that it stands at 36.7 percent following the arrests of a former justice minister and his wife for alleged vote buying.
Although a simple comparison cannot be made due to different survey methods, the figure is the second lowest since Abe returned to office in 2012, after 35.8 percent recorded in July 2017.
The approval rate dropped from 39.4 percent in the previous survey held late last month. The disapproval rate was 49.7 percent.
Prosecutors on Thursday arrested former Justice Minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his lawmaker wife Anri for allegedly giving millions of yen in cash to local politicians as rewards for their efforts to secure votes for her in last year's House of Councillors election. Kawai is known for his close ties with Abe.
In the nationwide telephone survey conducted on Saturday and Sunday, 90.4 percent said Kawai and his wife should quit as lawmakers. The couple left the ruling Liberal Democratic Party just before the arrests but have kept their seats in the lower and upper houses, respectively.
A total of 75.9 percent of respondents said Abe is responsible significantly or to some extent for confusion over the scandal as he heads the LDP.
The survey also found that 57.3 see it as inappropriate for the government to spend up to 300 billion yen ($2.8 billion) to outsource administrative work for its subsidy and coupon campaign to support the domestic tourism industry, hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Meanwhile, 24.8 percent said it is appropriate.
As the government and ruling parties had rejected opposition calls for extending the ordinary Diet session, which ended Wednesday, 56.5 percent said it should have been extended, while 34.5 percent said extension was not necessary.
Responses were mixed over the recent government decision to suspend a plan to deploy the U.S.-developed Aegis Ashore missile defense system to counter the threat of North Korean ballistic missiles amid opposition from local residents of planned installation sites.
While 23.0 percent welcomed the decision, 19.4 percent did not. However, the largest portion of 44.4 percent said the government should not have proceeded with the plan in the first place.
Participants in the survey were selected through random digital dialing, also known as RDD, in which telephone numbers are generated at random by a computer.
Of the 729 households with eligible voters dialed, 508 responded, while 500 of the 1,273 mobile numbers contacted gave responses.