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Japan Kishida's support hits low on his party's ties to controversial church

FILE PHOTO: Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida speaks to the media after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan October 4, 2022, in this photo taken by Kyodo. Mandatory credit Kyodo via REUTERS

Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's government slid to the lowest of his one-year tenure on doubts about his party's disclosure of ties to the controversial Unification Church, an opinion poll showed on Sunday.

Kishida has struggled to overcome revelations of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) deep and longstanding ties to the church in the wake of the July assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The suspected killer has said his mother was bankrupted by the church, which critics call a cult, and has blamed Abe for promoting it.

Support for Kishida's cabinet slumped to 35% from about 40% a month ago in a weekend poll by Kyodo news, the lowest in the agency's surveys since he took office in October 2021. About 48% of respondents said they did not support his cabinet.

Some 83% said the LDP had not done enough to disclose ties between the party's lawmakers and the Unification Church, far eclipsing the 13% who said it had.

The LDP has acknowledged many individual lawmakers have ties to the church but said there was no organisational link to the party. The staunchly anti-communist church says its political arm has courted lawmakers, mostly from the LDP because of their ideological proximity, although it has no direct affiliation to the party.

On rising prices of food, utilities and other necessities, about 79% in the Kyodo survey said they had been hit, compared with about 21% who had not felt any impact.

Japan's inflation accelerated to a nearly eight-year high 2.8% in August, the most recent data available, exceeding the central bank's 2% target for a fifth straight month as price pressure from raw materials and yen weakness broadened.

(Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by William Mallard)

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