Abe’s popularity intact, but handling of land scandal questioned: poll


Public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has not been significantly shaken by the scandal over alleged influence-peddling in a cut-price land deal, even though a vast majority of respondents to a new Kyodo News poll remain doubtful about his version of events.

The approval rating for his cabinet slipped only to 52.4%, down just 3.3 percentage points from a survey on March 11-12, according to the nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and Sunday.

Yet 82.5% of respondents said the government has not done enough to dispel doubts concerning the sale of government land at a huge discount for construction of a school in Osaka, or allegations that Abe donated money to the school operator, the results released Sunday showed.

The disapproval rate for Abe’s cabinet stood at 32.5%.

Only 10.7% believe the government has provided convincing explanations, while 62.6% were “not convinced” with Abe’s denial of any involvement by himself or his wife Akie in the controversial land deal. Just 28.7% said they were convinced neither had any involvement.

Abe on Friday again dismissed accusations that he had donated 1 million yen to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen, after Yasunori Kagoike, its head, repeated the accusation while testifying as a sworn witness in parliament the previous day.

The poll found that 58.7% said they cannot understand the explanation given by Abe, while 30.2% said otherwise.

On whether Akie should testify as a sworn witness in parliament, 52% said the first lady should, against 42.8% who said that was unnecessary.

On other key issues, 38.8% 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% said they are opposed to the bill, which is similar to legislation which twice before failed to secure passage.

As for whether to allow the Japanese emperor to abdicate, as discussed by a government panel, 57.4% said they support revising the Imperial House Law to permanently allow emperors to relinquish the throne, while 34.6% are in favor of enacting legislation allowing only Japan’s current monarch, Emperor Akihito, 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% said they are in favor, while 34.9% are opposed.

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

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

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



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