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Abe Cabinet approval rating slumps to 39% in new poll

[TOYKO] The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet continues to fall, dropping to 39 per cent in a recent nationwide opinion poll conducted by The Yomiuri Shimbun from Friday to Sunday.

The latest figure represents a decrease of three percentage points from the 42 per cent recorded in the previous survey conducted from March 31 to April 1.

It is the third consecutive decline since the survey conducted on March 9-11, and was down 15 percentage points in total. The latest approval rating is the second-lowest since the launch of the second Abe Cabinet.

The Cabinet's disapproval rating rose to 53 per cent, surpassing the previous high of 52 per cent recorded in July last year. Regarding their reasons for disapproval, a record-high 62 per cent of respondents said they do not trust the prime minister, surpassing the 54 per cent in the previous poll.

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In a recent development in the cronyism scandal involving school operator Kake Educational Institution, documents emerged detailing a meeting between Tadao Yanase, a former secretary to Abe, and Ehime prefectural government officials and others. According to the documents, Yanase said the establishment of a veterinary department at a university operated by Kake was "a matter concerning the prime minister." In response, Mr Yanase said he had not met the officials as far as he remembers, and Mr Abe has said he trusts Mr Yanase. Eighty-two per cent of respondents said they are not convinced by the explanations.

Regarding recent sexual harassment allegations against Administrative Vice Finance Minister Junichi Fukuda, which led him to announce his intention to resign, 76 per cent do not believe the Finance Ministry handled the matter appropriately. Asked whether Finance Minister Taro Aso should resign over the Fukuda scandal and the controversial sale of state-owned land to private school operator Moritomo Gakuen, 50 per cent said he should step down, while 44 per cent said such a move was unnecessary.

Seventy-four per cent believe that Mr Abe bears great responsibility for the series of incidents involving Moritomo Gakuen, Kake and the management of administrative documents. Asked whether the Diet should prioritize discussing these issues, 46 per cent supported the idea while the same number were opposed.

By political party, 37 per cent support the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, up from 36 per cent in the previous poll, followed by the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan with 10 per cent, up from 9 per cent. Another 40 per cent say they have no party affiliation, down from 41 perc ent in the previous survey.

The survey was conducted by polling 873 households with landline phones - all eligible voters aged 18 or older - and 1,112 mobile phone users sampled with a random digit dialing method. Of them, 1,066 people - 540 on landlines and 526 on mobile phones - gave valid answers.