Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida’s cabinet reshuffle appears to have done little to ease voter concerns amid anger about the ruling party’s ties to the controversial Unification Church, multiple local media polls said on Friday.
Links to the group have become a major liability for Kishida in the month since the suspected killer of former premier Shinzo Abe said his mother was bankrupted by the group and blamed Abe for promoting it. With approval ratings already at their lowest since he took office in October, Kishida on Wednesday cut some ministers with ties to the group from his cabinet.
More than half of respondents to a poll by the conservative Yomiuri daily paper, or 55%, said Kishida’s response was insufficient, while overall support for his cabinet slipped to 51%, down 6 points from a poll conducted August 5-7.
Some 86 percent who responded to a different poll by the Nikkei daily said Kishida’s actions had not “erased their concerns” about the ruling conservative Democratic Party’s (LDP) links to the organisation, but support for the cabinet held steady at 57%.
Kishida told a news conference on Wednesday after announcing the new cabinet lineup that he had instructed all new members to review their ties with the group, saying he did not believe the church had had an impact on party policy. Roughly a dozen LDP politicians have disclosed ties to the church or related organisations since Abe was slain.
But several members of the new cabinet said they had links to the group in the past, such as attending events or making donations to affiliated groups.
Kishida said he chose experienced ministers to deal with ongoing crises that he termed some of the toughest in decades, including surging prices and growing tensions with China over Taiwan. But he said he only selected those who had agreed to “review” their ties with the church.