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The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet plunged to 35.8 percent, down 11.8 percentage points from mid-May, marking a record low since he took office last September, a Kyodo News poll showed Saturday.

The fall was apparently caused by the recent suicide of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who had been implicated in financial scandals, and the pension fiasco involving the Social Insurance Agency.

The poll was conducted Friday and Saturday on 1,040 eligible voters.

Of the total, 48.7 percent said they do not support Abe’s Cabinet, up 10.5 percentage points from mid-May. Asked why, 31.4 percent said Abe lacks leadership.

On the Matsuoka issue, 69.5 percent of all respondents said Abe has not taken responsibility for appointing Matsuoka and allowing him to avoid giving clear-cut accounts about the scandals while he was still alive. About 20 percent said Abe has taken responsibility.

Slightly less than 29 percent said they would vote for the main opposition Democratic Party of Japan if the House of Councilors election were to be held now, exceeding 26.5 percent who said they would vote for Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party.

The percentage of respondents who want a DPJ-led administration stood at 36.6 percent, while 35.7 percent said they want an LDP-led government.

For the first time since Abe took power, the percentages of people who responded in favor of the DPJ on those two questions outnumbered who supported the LDP.

Asked how they evaluate the management of pension and the Social Insurance Agency issues by the LDP and its junior coalition party, New Komeito, 52.5 percent of all respondents gave a negative answer, while 38.6 percent said they see it positively.

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