National / Politics

Abe sees Cabinet approval rating log sharpest fall in two years

Kyodo

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet has fallen to 41.0 percent, a Kyodo News survey showed Sunday, dropping 8.3 points from the previous poll in January and marking the sharpest fall in nearly two years amid ongoing political scandals.

In the nationwide opinion poll conducted Saturday and Sunday, 82.5 percent said they were either “worried” or “worried to a certain extent” about the negative impact of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, on the nation’s economy.

While 63.5 percent welcomed the government’s decision to prohibit some foreign nationals from entering Japan to prevent the spread of the virus, which originated in China, 30.4 percent said the move was insufficient.

The survey also showed that 71.4 percent expect an unfavorable impact on Japan if U.S. President Donald Trump is re-elected in November, while 16.7 percent anticipated a favorable impact.

The Cabinet disapproval rate stood at 46.1 percent, up 9.4 points, following criticism of the government’s handling of documents related to publicly funded annual cherry blossom viewing parties at the center of allegations of cronyism.

For the parties, the government compiles a list of invitees based on recommendations from Cabinet members, including the prime minister and ruling party lawmakers. Some see the selection process for guests as opaque.

In the telephone survey, 84.5 percent said Abe had failed to provide an adequate explanation regarding the matter.

Following the arrest last year of former ruling party lawmaker Tsukasa Akimoto for alleged receipt of bribes in connection with a casino project, 77.5 percent said the government should review its plan to open “integrated resorts” set to include casinos, hotels and conference facilities.

Last year casinos as part of integrated resorts were legalized, with the government planning to choose up to three locations for the complexes that are expected to start operating in the mid-2020s.

When asked about the most appropriate time to dissolve the Lower House for a general election, 46.4 percent of those polled in the survey responded “after the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics,” while 31.1 percent said “in the next year or later.” The four-year term of House of Representatives members will end in October 2021 unless Abe dissolves the chamber beforehand.

On who should succeed Abe as next prime minister, 22.6 percent indicated a preference for Shigeru Ishiba, a former secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, and 12.0 percent endorsed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, while 13.4 percent hoped Abe would remain in office.

Regarding Abe’s push to amend the nation’s pacifist Constitution, 56.5 percent expressed opposition while 33.3 percent showed support.

The survey, covering 742 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,296 mobile phone numbers, obtained responses from 513 and 516 people, respectively.

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