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Abe tries to ride out storm in bid to restore trust deficit

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A shoo-in a few months ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plunge in popularity imperils his re-election to a third term as LDP president in September 2018, fueling speculation about when he will go and who will replace him. That said, it’s still too soon to count him out.

It’s astounding that 83 percent of the public in a recent Asahi poll don’t believe the prime minster’s denials of cronyism regarding the special exemption granted an old friend, Kotaro Kake, to open up the nation’s first veterinary school in half a century. Whether or not Abe is fibbing, few seem to believe him and his public support rate has cratered by 20 points from earlier this year.

A recent Cabinet reshuffle saw him get only a modest bounce of 4 percent in public approval in the NHK poll to 39 percent. In that poll, 78 percent didn’t buy Abe’s denials of cronyism, while just 3 percent fully believed his explanation and just 12 percent were partially persuaded. His credibility is shot and the public has turned against him. In the United States, a recent poll indicates that 73 percent of Americans don’t trust the information coming out of the White House, so even a serial fabricator such as President Donald Trump comes out better than Abe.

In the recent NHK poll, among Abe’s supporters, half say that it is because there is no alternative. This “no alternative” factor means that support for Abe is fragile, as it is not based on his policies or leadership, but rather reflects his good fortune of having a fractured opposition led by the zombie Democratic Party and no strong rivals within the Liberal Democratic Party.

Cue Yuriko Koike, the........

© The Japan Times