Japan PM Kishida's approval hits new low after ministers resign

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds a news conference after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Bangkok, Thailand November 19, 2022. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's public support slipped to a new low in a poll published on Sunday, as a series of cabinet resignations has compounded anger over the ruling party's ties to a controversial religious group.

Support for Kishida's cabinet fell to 33.1% from 37.6% a month ago in the Kyodo news poll, his lowest in the agency's surveys since he took office in October 2021. It found disapproval at 51.6%, exceeding 50% for the first time.

Kishida's support has been sliding since the July assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe revealed deep and longstanding ties between ruling Liberal Democratic Party politicians and the Unification Church, a group that critics say is a cult.

Exacerbating the government's problems, scandals have forced three cabinet members from office since last month.

The Kyodo poll found 62.4% of respondents disapproving of how Kishida had handled the resignations of Economic Revitalisation Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi and Internal Affairs Minister Minoru Terada.

Kishida's approval failed to get a boost from a $200 billion economic support package to ease inflationary pains fuelled by the yen's plunge to 32-year-lows.

On the government's push to boost Japan's defence capabilities, 60.8% in the Kyodo survey said they would support the country acquiring counterattack capabilities - controversial under the pacifist constitution - to boosting deterrence, while 35% opposed it.

(Reporting by Satoshi Sugiyama; Editing by William Mallard)

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