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Cabinet shakeup stanches bleeding for embattled Abe as support rate rises to 42%, Nikkei spot poll

  • August 5, 2017
  • , Nikkei , p. 1
  • JMH Translation

In the Nikkei Inc./TV Tokyo telephone spot poll conducted on Aug. 3–4, the approval rating of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet rose to 42%, up 3 percentage points from the previous poll [conducted on July 21–23]. The nonsupport rate dropped 3 points to 49%. Those approving of the newly reshuffled cabinet surpassed those not approving, 42% to 36%. The cabinet shakeup thus stemmed the decline in the support rate, which had been taking a beating after a scandal erupted over Kake Educational Institution’s plan to set up a veterinary school.


Of those supporting the revamp, a plurality of 28% specifically cited the removal of problematic cabinet members. Another 23% applauded what they consider Abe’s meritocratic approach, while 18% like the sense of stability the new lineup provides. Replacing all ministers associated with the Kake matter is thought to have helped stem the drop in the support rate.


Among those not supporting the new cabinet, the most common reason given was too few young people, cited by 20%. Another 18% said the prime minister was too beholden to LDP factions, and 17% complained about a lack of fresh faces.


This revamp did more to improve the public’s view of Abe’s government than the previous reshuffle in August 2016, after which the cabinet’s approval rating remained flat at 58%. But the impact pales in comparison to the 11-point boost from a September 2014 shakeup that brought in several women, including Yuko Obuchi as minister of economy, trade and industry. An overhaul in August 2007 during Abe’s first stint as prime minister lifted the government’s approval rating by 13 points. As in the July poll, the cabinet disapproval rate surpassed the approval rate in the recent poll as well.


“I don’t think this is such a simple situation that just getting a [new leadership] structure in place will boost our approval rating,” Abe said on Aug. 4 on Nippon Television. “We’re being asked to get real results.”


Support for the Liberal Democratic Party remained roughly flat, edging up 2 points to 37%, while support for the main opposition Democratic Party languished at 8%. Ruling coalition partner Komeito and the Japanese Communist Party each polled at 5%. The proportion of unaffiliated voters shrank 5 points to 36%.


The survey was conducted on Aug. 3–4 by Nikkei Research Inc. via random-digit dialing (RDD) to both landlines and mobile phones. It drew 933 responses from people aged 18 and older nationwide, for a response rate of 43.6%.


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