WORLD

Japanese premier's ratings drop 10 points amid scandal

JAPANESE PREMIERS RATINGS DROP 10 POINTS AMID SCANDAL

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's approval rate dropped to 26 percent, the second 10-point fall in two months, according to a newspaper poll published Monday.

The results of the survey carried out for the Mainichi newspaper showed Abe's ratings at their lowest since he was elected in December 2012 -- threatening his ambition to become the longest-serving post-war prime minister next year.

The weekend poll was carried out against a background of scandal including a veterinary school run by a close friend of the premier.

Abe has repeatedly denied assisting Kake Gakuen, run by Kotaro Kake, get approval to run the private school on the southern island of Shikoku.

The poll found that 76 percent of those polled did not trust government explanations of the deal.

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was defeated in the July 2 Tokyo metropolitan election and the opposition took the mayoralty of the northern city of Sendai on Sunday in a sign of Abe's weakening grip on domestic politics.

The prime minister is expected to reshuffle his Cabinet early next month in a bid to restore support.

He will appear before a parliamentary committee later Monday, where he is expected to be questioned about the Kake scandal as well as reports that defense officials concealed details about Japanese troops taking part in UN peacekeeping operations in South Sudan.

The Mainichi poll found 31 percent of respondents wanted a fresh LDP leader, a figure that rose to 51 percent among LDP supporters.

Among touted replacements are Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of a former premier who is billed as Japan's Emmanuel Macron.

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