Japan PM vows to tackle virus surge as public support plunges

TOKYO: Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged yesterday to tackle surging coronavirus cases and restore normal life "as soon as possible" as polls showed plunging support for his government.

Mr Suga, who was speaking at the opening of a new Parliament session, has been in office only since September, but has seen approval ratings nosedive over his government's handling of a third wave of infections.

He also vowed to forge ahead with preparations to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

"We will press ahead with preparations, with determination of building watertight anti-infection measures and holding an event that can bring hope and courage to the world," Mr Suga said in a speech at the start of a150-day session of Parliament.

The greater Tokyo region and several other parts of Japan are under a state of emergency set to last until Feb 7.

A weekend survey by the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper showed approval for Mr Suga's Cabinet sank six percentage points from last month to 39 per cent.

The latest readings compare with a 74 per cent approval rating for his government in the same survey when he took office in September.

Cases in Japan have doubled over the past six weeks to about 330,000 with 4,525 fatalities. - AFP, REUTERS