The approval rating for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet continued to slide to 34.3 percent and neared the lowest level in his tenure, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday, as the government grapples with the trouble-plagued national identification card system and concerns over Fukushima nuclear disaster cleanup efforts.

The support rating dropped from 40.8 percent in the previous poll in mid-June, while the disapproval rating increased to 48.6 percent from 41.6 percent, according to the three-day nationwide telephone survey conducted from Friday.

The lowest approval rate since Kishida took office in October 2021 is 33.1 percent that was logged in November and December last year.

The support rate for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party stood at 30.1 percent, the lowest since the party returned to power in December 2012.

As the government prepares to discharge treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex into the Pacific Ocean, 80.3 percent of respondents said they felt the explanation provided by the government on the issue was insufficient, while only 16.1 percent considered it adequate.

A total of 87.4 percent, meanwhile, said the water release, even though the government has vowed to ensure it will be carried out safely, will more or less create economic damage through groundless rumors.

The government is moving ahead to decide when to begin discharging the wastewater, with concerns lingering, especially among the country's fishermen, about the potentially adverse impact the discharge could have on their businesses. Neighboring countries such as China have also voiced concerns.

So far, the government has only committed to starting the release sometime "around the summer," but August could be a possible option, considering Kishida's busy diplomatic schedule in September.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida meets the press at his official residence in Tokyo on July 16, 2023, before leaving for Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a four-day trip to the Middle East that will also take him to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

On the release itself, which is said to be necessary to continue with the work to scrap the nuclear reactors that suffered fuel meltdowns, the public was divided, with 31.3 percent of respondents approving the move, 25.6 percent against it and 43.1 percent unable to say which side they stand.

The poll also showed 76.6 percent calling for the postponement or cancellation of the government's plan to scrap health insurance cards and incorporate them into "My Number" ID cards in the fall of next year, following a series of personal information leaks and registration errors regarding the system.

The number increased from the previous survey's 72.1 percent.

A total of 32.7 percent said they do not want to become cardholders in the future, with some saying they would rather return the cards to the government, and 74.7 percent responded they do not think the government's plan to thoroughly check the system by the fall will resolve the problems.

Facing sluggish approval rates, Kishida has been considering reshuffling his Cabinet and the leadership of the LDP in mid-September, lawmakers have recently said.

By political parties, LDP maintained the highest support rate with 30.1 percent, which was followed by 10.6 percent of respondents favoring the opposition Japan Innovation Party and 8.7 percent preferring the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan.

The LDP's junior coalition ally Komeito secured 5.9 percent of support.

A total of 32.5 percent said they did not support any political party.

The poll called 491 randomly selected households with eligible voters on landline phones and 1,829 mobile phone numbers. It yielded responses from 416 people from households and 618 mobile phone users.

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Japan PM Kishida's support rate dives to 40.8% amid ID card fiasco