Japan PM Kishida approval at 49pc: Poll

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Japan's new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has a 49 per cent approval rating, lower than that of his predecessors at the start of their terms, according to a poll by public broadcaster NHK a week after he took the top job.

That figure is well under the 62 per cent who initially supported his predecessor Yoshihide Suga's administration, according to the NHK poll published on Monday.

However, support for Kishida's new government was higher than the most recent ratings for Suga, who became deeply unpopular as he struggled to contain a fifth wave of coronavirus infections.

Last month, Suga stepped down after only a year.

In his debut in parliament on Monday, Kishida defended his pro-nuclear energy policies.

Kishida's ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is heading into a general election for the lower house this month, when many voters will see bringing an end to the pandemic and rebuilding a weak economy as key priorities.

The coronavirus situation has improved, with Japan on Monday recording its smallest number of new cases since the middle of last year, but Kishida vowed to strengthen measures including expanded testing.

The ruling coalition of the LDP and Komeito hold a majority in the powerful lower house, and Kishida has said he will aim to maintain that.

A Sankei Newspaper survey on Monday showed voters' solid support for the ruling LDP, at 45 per cent, as support ratings for opposition parties hovered around single digits.

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