Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Under mounting criticism, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga asked the legislature for patience Monday as he guided the country through the coronavirus pandemic in the middle of a struggling economy.
In comments during the opening day of a new Diet session, Suga attempted to reassure lawmakers and the public regarding a state of emergency he called for the greater Tokyo area and seven prefectures area last week because of spiking coronavirus cases.
"I am deeply sorry about having to ask the public to restrict their activities," Suga said. "While seeking cooperation from the population, I will stand on the front lines to combat the battle and overcome the difficult situation."
Since becoming the new leader o the Liberal Democratic Party, Suga has faced tumbling approval ratings. His administration faced harsh criticism for its slow response to the coronavirus pandemic.
A poll from the daily Yomiuri Shimbun showed Suga's approval rating falling 6% to 39% last month while the disapproval rate jumped to 49%.
"Above everything, I'll do everything I can to stamp out the coronavirus as soon as possible and win back everyday life, so that everyone can make their living safely and the streets are busy again," Suga said. "To carve out hope for the future, I've worked out the solutions for longtime issues over the past four months. I'll implement them as soon as possible, and I present our country's future vision to you all."