Over 80 percent of respondents have become concerned about the number of new coronavirus cases reaching a record high in Japan in recent days, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday.

The nationwide telephone survey, conducted over the weekend, found that 68.4 percent said the government's response to the pandemic should be its top priority rather than economic stimulus.

People wearing face masks walk in Tokyo's Shibuya area on Nov. 14, 2020, amid a surge in coronavirus cases across Japan. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

Despite a recent resurgence of coronavirus infections in Japan, many tourist attractions have been crowded on weekends and holidays. With the country reporting record cases of coronavirus infections for three days in a row through Saturday, the latest survey showed 84.0 percent of respondents are worried about the recent virus spread.

Respondents were split on the government's efforts to support domestic tourism as part of its stimulus measures, with 50.0 percent saying they are against the government's extending its "Go To Travel" subsidy campaign beyond January next year and 43.4 percent supporting an extension.

Tourism minister Kazuyoshi Akaba has said the government is considering extending the travel subsidy program beyond January, with some government sources saying another extra budget currently being compiled will likely fund the program's extension, among other measures against the pandemic.

The approval rate for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's Cabinet rose 2.5 percentage points from last month to 63.0 percent, while the disapproval rate fell 2.7 points to 19.2 percent.

The support rate declined last month as the public largely felt that Suga, who took office in September, had not offered a sufficient explanation of his controversial decision to bar some scholars critical of government policies from joining a national advisory panel.

In the latest survey, 69.6 percent still think Suga needs to better explain his rejection of six nominees for the Science Council of Japan, a move widely criticized by scholars. The high percentage was slightly lower than the 72.7 percent who said in response to the same question in the October survey that the premier has more explaining to do on the issue.

Asked if Suga should retract his decision to turn down the panel nominees, 48.0 percent said he does not need to, while 32.6 percent said he should.

Regarding Japan's relationship with key ally the United States following the U.S. presidential election earlier in the month, 67.2 percent said bilateral ties would not change under an administration of president-elect Joe Biden, who is set to take office in January.

Only 7.3 percent think the relationship will get worse and 19.8 percent expect improvement.

The support rate for Suga's Liberal Democratic Party stood at 44.7 percent, with 2.7 percent supporting the LDP's junior coalition partner Komeito, 8.4 percent the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and 4.3 percent the Japan Innovation Party.

The two-day telephone poll, reaching 720 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,282 mobile phone numbers, yielded responses from 508 and 506 people, respectively.