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Beleaguered Abe on the ropes as support weakens

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The public has seen the true face of Shinzo Abe and doesn’t like what it sees. The prime minister’s public support in July imploded across the board, with even the pro-Abe Sankei Shimbun recording a 13 percent drop from June to July to 34.7 percent. In the mid-July Kyodo poll, Abe’s support plunged to 35.8 percent, with 78 percent disbelieving his denials about cronyism and only 15.4 percent expressing satisfaction with his explanations.

And that’s the good news. In two other polls, Abe has entered the “dead zone” of below 30 percent, with the Jiji Press pegging his support rate at 29.9 percent, while he plummeted to 26 percent according to the Mainichi. Among postwar prime ministers, only Keizo Obuchi was able to rebound from the dead zone, but unlike Abe, Obuchi had the advantage of not being a polarizing figure.

It may get worse for Abe. He undermined his own sagging credibility with botched testimony in the Diet on July 24 that was designed to turn the page on the apparent impropriety of his friend Kotaro Kake in getting permission to open up a veterinary school, the first in 52 years. Diet testimony and documents from the education ministry suggest that Abe’s name and wishes were invoked to grease the wheels for Kake’s application. It is also alleged that the criteria were adjusted to eliminate a rival bid by Kyoto Sangyo University.

In the face of mounting allegations of unethical behavior, many of the prime minister’s aides suddenly became forgetful about what they said and whom they met. Others flat out denied........

© The Japan Times