Japan PM Suga's rating falls to 55% in second poll since took office-NHK

TOKYO, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s approval rating fell seven points to 55% in a poll by public broadcaster NHK released on Monday, the second survey since he took office last month.

The result comes amid a controversy over Suga’s rejection of six scholars for membership in a science advisory body set up after World War Two, a move critics say violates the constitution’s principle of academic freedom.

Suga has said the decision was appropriate, but 47% said they were not very convinced or not convinced at all by his explanation, according to the poll, which was based on responses from 1,284 people.

Regarding the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, 54% had a positive view against 40% who had a negative view.

But 59% said a decision to gradually relax restrictions on entry to the country by foreigners with long-term visas from Oct. 1 was too soon, NHK said.

Suga took office after Shinzo Abe resigned last month citing ill health. Abe had come under fire for what critics called a slow and clumsy response to the COVID-19 outbreak, although Japan has not seen the sort of explosive outbreak suffered in many other places overseas. (Reporting by Takashi Umekawa Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)