Support for Abe falls over scandals: poll

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's approval rating has fallen sharply according to the latest opinion poll, March 20, 2017 AFP

TOKYO —

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s approval rating has fallen sharply, an opinion poll showed Monday, as scandals erode public confidence in a government now in its fifth year.

Abe took power in December 2012 on the back of widespread frustration with the previous administration’s handling of the 2011 nuclear disaster and perceived mismanagement of ties with key ally the United States.

He vowed to revive the world’s third-largest economy by ending years of on-and-off deflation and pursue his pet project of amending Japan’s post-war pacificist constitution that bans it from use of force except in the strictest sense of self-defence.

But for weeks now he has been forced to deny connections with a nationalistic school operator whose purchase of state land to build a primary school at a huge discount has drawn allegations of shady dealings.

Abe has said he had no role in the transaction and has more than once vowed to resign if any connection is found.

But new twists to the scandal, which has also engulfed his defence minister, keep emerging, ensuring it remains on newspaper front pages.

The latest survey by the top-selling Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper shows approval for Abe’s cabinet has dropped by 10 percentage points to 56%.

Though that still remains high, the daily said it marked the biggest monthly fall since he took office. Other recent polls have also shown declines.

Some 64 percent of the more than 1,000 respondents to the Yomiuri survey, conducted at the weekend, said they were not convinced by Abe’s denials. 

Yasunori Kagoike, the school operator, last week claimed he received a one million yen ($8,800) donation from Abe for the primary school, plans for which now have been put on ice.

Abe’s wife, Akie, had been named honorary principal of the school but stepped down last month as the land scandal swirled.

Abe has said neither he nor his wife made any donation and analysts quoted in local media said even if they had it was not illegal. But if proven it could hurt his political standing as his credibility would be called into question.

The issue could come to a head on Thursday when Kagoike, who has gained notoriety for operating an Osaka kindergarten that inculcates pupils with ultra-nationalist views, will be questioned under oath in parliament.

The scandal has also drawn in Abe’s hawkish defense minister, Tomomi Inada, who was forced to apologise to lawmakers after it emerged she had represented Kagoike in court more than a decade ago after saying a day earlier she had not.

She is also taking flak in parliament over a parallel scandal related to Japan’s peace-keeping unit in South Sudan that has raised concerns about civilian control of the military.

© 2017 AFP

  • 4

    Aly Rustom

    Abe has said he had no role in the transaction and has more than once vowed to resign if any connection is found.

    Yasunori Kagoike, the school operator, last week claimed he received a one million yen ($8,800) donation from Abe for the primary school, plans for which now have been put on ice.

    so if that's not having a role, I don't know what is. If Abe doesn't resign, he will be shown as a liar and not a man of his word.

    Some 64 percent of the more than 1,000 respondents to the Yomiuri survey, conducted at the weekend, said they were not convinced by Abe’s denials.

    And that's conservative Yomiuri. I'm willing to bet its WAY over 64%.

    Abe has said neither he nor his wife made any donation and analysts quoted in local media said even if they had it was not illegal.

    But we already know that they did. As for its legality, let the courts decide. But since he lied, he needs to step down.

    But if proven it could hurt his political standing as his credibility would be called into question.

    Huh? Are you telling me that after all that has been revealed his credibility hasn't already been called into question??

    The scandal has also drawn in Abe’s hawkish defense minister, Tomomi Inada, who was forced to apologise to lawmakers after it emerged she had represented Kagoike in court more than a decade ago after saying a day earlier she had not.

    forced to apologise? she should have been forced to resign

    She is also taking flak in parliament over a parallel scandal related to Japan’s peace-keeping unit in South Sudan that has raised concerns about civilian control of the military.

    She needs to be relieved of her post effective immediately. And how is someone who has no military experience the country's defense minister anyway? What does she know about defense? Oh wait..she's part of Nippon Kaigi and is a historical revisionist! I get it now!

  • 1

    Goodlucktoyou

    The last snap election for no reason, only about half the people bothered to vote. Abe got just over half, which is about 25% of voters. Yomuri survey of 1000 people. There are 120,000,000 people in Japan.

  • 2

    Simon Foston

    Aly RustomMAR. 21, 2017 - 08:45AM JST

    "Abe has said he had no role in the transaction and has more than once vowed to resign if any connection is found."

    "Yasunori Kagoike, the school operator, last week claimed he received a one million yen ($8,800) donation from Abe for the primary school, plans for which now have been put on ice."

    so if that's not having a role, I don't know what is. If Abe doesn't resign, he will be shown as a liar and not a man of his word.

    He'll make out that donating money is not the same thing as using his influence to secure the transaction, which is what he said he would resign for. He'll try to weasel and obfuscate his way out of resigning, at least until LDP rivals start sniffing blood and getting their daggers out.

    "Abe has said neither he nor his wife made any donation and analysts quoted in local media said even if they had it was not illegal."

    But we already know that they did. As for its legality, let the courts decide.

    Kagoike's not his constituent so it is apparently legal.

    But since he lied, he needs to step down.

    Yes, saying he didn't make any donations if Kagoike can prove that he did is really the main problem.

    She (Inada) needs to be relieved of her post effective immediately. And how is someone who has no military experience the country's defense minister anyway? What does she know about defense? Oh wait..she's part of Nippon Kaigi and is a historical revisionist! I get it now!

    As Il Duce put it himself, "she brings hope." A bit like Obi Wan Kenobi. Or some Nippon Kaigi fantasy land equivalent.

  • 0

    Aly Rustom

    Simon Agree with you

  • 3

    bruinfan

    With most of the over 60 crowd (they vote a lot BTW), the big issue is getting their nice pension. The other issues with them are "sho ga nai" or "tsk tsk and forget" by the next election, regardless of how bad these issues are (Moritomo school corruption, massive waste of money for Olympic constuction/salaries, declining standards of living for those in their 20s, 30s, 40s...) Anyway, you can see that (pension data scandal) was one of the issues that outed the LDP for a few years, as few other things would.

  • 0

    Kobe White Bar Owner

    @bruinfan,

    Totally agree, especially with the pension point. As for sho ga nai, its one of the most.. how to say... upsetting things about Japanese min set.

  • 0

    Educator60

    ""Abe has said neither he nor his wife made any donation and analysts quoted in local media said even if they had it was not illegal."

    But we already know that they did. As for its legality, let the courts decide."

    Do we know that?

  • 1

    drlucifer

    Teflon Abe will come out unscathed just because the general population is more interested in food programs rather than corruption from elected officials and bureaucrats. What a vast contrast between S.Korea and Japan. Indeed a tale of two countries.

  • -1

    Cricky

    Ride it out, next will be bigger and better aka Abe's close friend getting land for a University really cheep and as always they are all Nippon Kaigi members that the media somehow overlook.

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