National / Politics

Abe slips in polls as skeptical voters urge first lady to testify: survey

Kyodo, Staff Report

Public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not been rocked by the scandal over alleged influence-peddling in a cut-price land deal but the vast majority of respondents doubt his version of events, the results of the latest opinion poll indicate.

According to the results of the weekend-long Kyodo News survey, released Sunday, the approval rating for Abe’s Cabinet has slipped 3.3 points to 52.4 percent, and about 82 percent of the public thinks his government hasn’t done enough to dispel the doubts created by its hushed cut-rate land deal with a nationalist school operator in Osaka, or allegations that Abe donated money to it via his wife.

The Cabinet’s disapproval rating meanwhile dropped to 32.5 percent from 30.7 percent in the previous Kyodo News poll two weeks ago, the results said.

In fact, only 10.7 percent believe the government provided a convincing explanation.

Specifically, 62.6 percent said they were “not convinced” by the denials issued by Abe and his wife, compared with 28.7 percent who said they were.

On Friday, Abe again dismissed accusations that he had donated ¥1 million to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen after its head, Yasunori Kagoike, repeated the accusations during sworn testimony in the Diet the previous day.

“I’d like to emphasize that neither she (Akie Abe) nor I are in any way involved in the purchase of land for the school and the municipal certification of the institution,” Abe told the Diet on Friday.

The poll found that 58.7 percent of the respondents were confused by Abe’s explanations and 30.2 percent were not.

On whether Akie Abe should testify as a sworn witness before the Diet, 52 percent said the first lady should, whereas 42.8 percent said that it was unnecessary.

On other key issues, 38.8 percent said they support the bill to punish people convicted of planning to carry out serious crimes, up 5.8 points, after the Cabinet approved the bill last week. Some 40.0 percent said they are opposed to the bill, which is similar to legislation which twice before failed to secure passage.

Regarding whether to allow the Emperor to abdicate, as has been discussed by a government panel, 57.4 percent said they support revising the Imperial House Law to permanently allow emperors to relinquish the throne, while 34.6 percent are in favor of enacting legislation allowing only Emperor Akihito, the current monarch, to abdicate.

Asked about a proposal recently compiled as a Diet consensus and calling on the government to prepare such one-off legislation, 56.2 percent said they are in favor, while 34.9 percent are opposed.

By party, Abe’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party remained dominant with 42.4 percent backing it, down just 1.4 points from the previous survey.

The support rating for the main opposition Democratic Party stood at 8.8 percent, and for Komeito, the LDP’s junior coalition partner, at 3.8 percent.

The survey covered 1,460 randomly selected households with eligible voters nationwide, with valid responses collected from 1,018 people.