TOKYO - Disapproval of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet edged above 40 per cent for the first time, propelled by doubts over whether his ruling party would ever be free of ties to the Unification Church, according to a public opinion poll.
Revelations of long-running links to the church founded in South Korea in the 1950s and famous for its mass weddings have become a problem for Mr Kishida since July 8, when former prime minister Shinzo Abe was shot and his suspected killer said his mother was bankrupted by the church and blamed Mr Abe for promoting it.
Mr Kishida's support has tumbled and ties to the church have also fanned opposition to a state funeral for Mr Abe to be held on Sept 27.
According to a survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily, disapproval of Mr Kishida's Cabinet rose to 41 per cent from 34 per cent roughly a month ago, climbing over 40 per cent for the first time since he took office last year
Mr Kishida apologised last week for his ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) ties to the church and said the LDP would make it "party policy" to end such ties and step up compliance.
Though 76 per cent said they approved of this, 72 per cent said they didn't believe the party would be able to completely sever their ties with the organisation, which over the years has faced questions about how it solicits donations.
Opposition to the funeral for Mr Abe, which will be fully paid for by the government, climbed to 56 per cent from 46 per cent a month ago.
The ceremony, to be held at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan hall, will cost about 250 million yen (S$2.5 million), excluding outlays for security and the reception of overseas dignitaries, the government has said. REUTERS