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Yoshihide Suga's future uncertain after Tokyo Olympics, COVID-19 surge

Yoshihide Suga's future uncertain after Tokyo Olympics, COVID-19 surge
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (L) has denied a link between between the Tokyo Olympics and the rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- The majority of Japanese who responded to a recent survey say they do not want Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to be re-elected to office, as COVID-19 cases rise after the Tokyo Olympics.

The survey from local paper Yomiuri Shimbun published Tuesday showed that Suga's approval rating stands at 35%, the lowest level since he assumed office last year, according to the paper.

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But the number was higher than the 28% approval rating reported in a poll taken by the Asahi Shimbun over the weekend.

About 66% of respondents to the Yomiuri survey said that they do not want Suga to stay on as prime minister after his term as president of the governing Liberal Democratic Party expires Sept. 30.

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Japan also is expected to hold the 49th general election of members to the House of Representatives on or before Oct. 22.

Suga's popularity has declined as a slow vaccine rollout and surge in COVID-19 cases drew backlash, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

The Tokyo Olympics has drawn mixed reactions from the public. The Asahi poll showed that 56% of respondents viewed the Games positively, and 32% said it was a bad idea. Japan won a record number of medals during the Games.

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But as Japan celebrated medal victories coronavirus cases also have risen. The prime minister has denied any link between the Olympics and the rise in cases, according to Kyodo News.

"Ultimately, the Olympics have had a negative impact on Mr. Suga," said Iwao Osaka, an associate professor of political communications at Komazawa University, according to Kyodo.

"The fact that the number of novel coronavirus cases surged during the Olympics is a failure for his government politically, as he had envisioned holding the Games with the virus under control with vaccines and going into the election, and also in terms of crisis management."

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