The support rate for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet has dropped to 33.1 percent, the lowest since its launch last year, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday, after three of his ministers were forced out in less than a month.
The approval rating was down from 37.6 percent in the previous poll conducted in late October, while the disapproval rating rose to 51.6 percent, exceeding 50 percent for the first time since Kishida took office in October last year, according to the two-day nationwide telephone survey conducted from Saturday.
Kishida's leadership has increasingly been called into question, marked in this survey by 30.2 percent of respondents asked when they want the prime minister to resign saying "as soon as possible."
For other answers to the query, 29.4 percent said they are willing to wait until his term as the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party ends in September 2024, while 23.6 percent said until after the Group of Seven summit to be hosted by Japan in Hiroshima in May next year.
The latest poll showed that 62.4 percent of survey respondents see Kishida's sacking of the three ministers as too late, while 26.0 percent think the timing was appropriate.
In Kishida's Cabinet, Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Minoru Terada was effectively dismissed over a political funds-related scandal last Sunday.
Before Terada, economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa stepped down in late October over his ties with the controversial Unification Church, and Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi also resigned earlier in November for remarks seen as making light of his role in authorizing executions of death-row inmates.
The survey also signaled a shift in public opinion, long wary of anything that might seem to undermine Japan's pacifist Constitution, with 60.8 percent approving the government's plan for Japan to acquire an enemy base strike capability, or a "counterstrike capability," compared with 35.0 percent who disapprove.
Asked what would be the most appropriate source of funds for increased defense spending, the top response was "spending cuts to the non-defense related budget" at 35.4 percent. Corporate tax increases and issuing government bonds were favored, at 22.4 percent and 13.2 percent, respectively.
Meanwhile, 24.9 percent of respondents said that increasing defense expenditures is "unnecessary."
The survey called 519 randomly selected households with eligible voters on landline phones and 1,913 mobile phone numbers. It yielded responses from 420 households and 615 mobile phone users.