TOKYO – Support for Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tumbled to its lowest level since he took office, hit by growing anger over a state funeral for slain former leader Shinzo Abe and his ruling party’s ties to a controversial church, an opinion poll showed.

Mr Kishida’s support fell to 32.3 per cent from 42.3 per cent a month before, according to the survey by Jiji news agency conducted at the weekend.

This is approaching what is widely seen as a “danger level” of 30 per cent that signifies a government may run into trouble carrying out its political agenda.

Those who did not support his government climbed to 40 per cent, a rise of 11.5 points, the poll showed.

Links to the Unification Church, founded in South Korea in the 1950s, have become a growing headache for Mr Kishida since July 8, when Mr Abe was killed by a suspect who blamed him for supporting the church, which he said had bankrupted his mother.

Revelations following Mr Abe’s assassination of ties between the ruling party and the church, which has faced criticism over the years, have fed into anger about the cost of the Sept 27 funeral, paid for solely by state funds, and how Mr Kishida decided to hold it.

Mr Kishida defended his decision in Parliament last week, the same day his ruling party announced the results of its investigation into party ties to the church.

But the poll found that 62.7 per cent of respondents did not approve of his handling of the church matter, while 51.9 per cent were against the state funeral. REUTERS