Opposition fails to capitalize on Abe’s woes
for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has fallen below 30 percent, his lowest approval rating since he returned to power in 2012. Beijing News commented on Thursday:
The slump in Abe’s approval rating came just three months after Abe poured scorn on the opposition Democratic Party for having the support of a meager 10 percent of the electorate. Smoldering scandals, from alleged favoritism linked to a friend’s business and missteps by his Cabinet ministers, have dealt a heavy blow to Abe.
But the heaviest blow has actually come from himself, as many voters believe that the Japanese leader is taking them for granted. Abe disclaimed any involvement in the recent scandals even in the face of solid evidence and public calls for proper explanations. His administration has even been accused of smearing a political rival by publishing forged information about his personal life.
Such missteps are taking a toll on Abe, who was expected to win a third three-year term and continue to run the country when his term expires next year.
Since the end of the Cold War, Japanese prime
ministers with a support rate of less than 30 percent have all ended up leaving office within a year, because of the ensuing loss of public trust and the rise of the opposition parties.
Meanwhile, the divisions in Abe’s own camp are expanding. A week ago Natuso Yamaguchi, the leader of New Komeito, the junior partner in Abe’s ruling coalition, urged the prime minister to focus on “regaining public trust”.
It is too early to say the Abe administration is now doomed. His support rate is above the single-digit level that forced some of his predecessors to resign. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also promised that the government would sincerely heed its falling support rate “as the voice of the people”.
In other words, the tables could be turned if Abe takes a humble stance and seeks to make amends. Nor will the ruling Liberal Democratic Party give way to the opposition Democratic Party, which has failed to benefit from Abe’s travails.