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Japan PM to reshuffle cabinet as ratings slump

19 Juin 2017

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has plunged 10.5 points from May to 44.9 percent, with many unconvinced by the government's denial of allegations of favoritism leveled against Abe in connection with a government project, a Kyodo News poll showed Sunday.

Last week, the education ministry unearthed documents that the opposition said suggested Mr Abe wanted a new veterinary school run by a friend to be approved in a state-run special economic zone. The ministry had said it could not find the documents but reopened the probe under public pressure.

Abe has repeatedly denied abusing his authority to benefit his friend.

Opposition politicians and the media have identified Abe's friend as Kotaro Kake, the director of the Kake Educational Institution, which wants to open a veterinary department.

Of the respondents, 84.9 percent also said the government's internal investigation into the matter did not reveal the facts about the veterinary school construction project, while 9.3 percent said it did.

The institution has asserted that it had acted appropriately.

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Voters were split over last week's enactment by parliament of a controversial law that will penalize conspiracies to commit terrorism and other serious crimes, with 42.1 percent in favor and 44 percent against the legislation, Kyodo said.

The government says the new legislation is needed so Japan can ratify a United Nations treaty aimed at global organized crime and prevent terrorism in the run-up to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Komeito party used its majority, so the amendment to the law could clear a vote in an upper house plenary session, after the Abe-led bloc bypassed an upper house committee vote.

Nearly 68 per cent of voters expressed dislike of that rarely used tactic, Kyodo said.

The Nikkei business daily, citing government and ruling party sources, said Mr Abe would rejig his cabinet in August or September.

It would be the first Cabinet reshuffle since August a year ago after the House of Councillors election.

Japan PM to reshuffle cabinet as ratings slump