Abe's support rate drops 7% following LDP-linked scandals, gaffes

Updated: 2016-02-22 09:37


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Abe's support rate drops 7% following LDP-linked scandals, gaffes

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan, January 28, 2016. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday he wants the new economy minister, Nobuteru Ishihara, to continue the government's efforts to push through structural reforms. [Photo/Agencies]

TOKYO - Following a string of scandals connected to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ministers and lawmakers, the nationwide support rate for the leader's cabinet tumbled 7 percentage points to 46.7 percent, according to a survey published Sunday.

According to the poll conducted by the Kyodo News Agency, the slump in public support since a previous poll taken at the end of January, was attributable to scandals and blunders by cabinet ministers and high ranking politicians in Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP).

The poll revealed that 77.7 percent of respondents believed that ministers and ruling bloc officials had been complaisant in carrying out their official duties.

Most notably, the resignation of former economic and fiscal policy minister, Akira Amari, largely credited with being the architect of the prime minister's "Abenomics" blend of aggressive economic policies, on Jan 28, for his involvement in a funding scandal, drew the ire of the public.

The figures showed that following Amari admitting his culpability in accepting illicit funds from a private organization in return for providing favors, the disapproval rating for the cabinet stood at 38.9 percent as of this weekend, compared to 35.3 percent as per the poll taken at the end of last month.

Further contributing to the disapproval rate increasing and the support rate dropping was LDP lawmaker Kensuke Miyazaki stepping down after a weekly magazine revealed an extra marital affair the lawmaker was having with a model that continued during his wife's pregnancy.

Miyazaki was initially hailed for taking on parliament over paternity leave in the Diet. His wife was also a member of parliament.

Of those polled, the survey showed that 85.6 percent felt that the embattled Miyazaki stepping down was a "matter of course."

Abe's Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Sanae Takaichi stating that broadcast media outlets could be forced to cancel programs or discontinue their operations if their programs recurrently presented views deemed politically biased and ignore official calls to remain "politically neutral," as stipulated in the broadcasting law, also drew a backlash from the public.

Upwards of 67 percent of those surveyed said that Takaichi's comments were a direct threat to freedom of speech as well as media freedom.

As to the Bank of Japan's introduction of a negative interest rate in a bid to enable more money to flow into the economy, as the bank struggles to tackle deflation, 82.2 percent said they felt the measure would have a limited impact on shoring up the economy.

Regarding opposition parties' current calls for controversial security legislation forced through parliament at the end of last year, more than 38 percent of those asked said the bills should be scrapped, while 47 percent said otherwise.