Abe’s Support Jumps After Boosting Female Ministers in Reshuffle

Support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rose in three Japanese media polls published after he appointed a record-equaling five women in a cabinet reshuffle this week.

Abe’s approval rating rose 13 percentage points to 64 percent in a Yomiuri newspaper survey, and 11 points to 60 percent in a Nikkei poll. Kyodo news found support for Abe’s cabinet increased 5 points to 55 percent, while backing was unchanged at 47 percent in a Mainichi newspaper. All the media outlets conducted their previous polls last month.

The rise in support comes after it drifted below 50 percent from highs of more than 70 percent in April last year. Abe vowed to keep economic revival at the top of his agenda after rejigging his cabinet, which had been unchanged for a postwar record of 20 months. He also increased the number of female ministers to five from two, a step toward his goal of having women in 30 percent of management positions.

“He’s managed to halt the gradual fall in support,” said Minoru Morita, an independent political analyst. “This doesn’t mean people have high expectations for his government. People’s livelihoods are getting harder and consumption is stagnating.”

Wages are failing to keep pace with inflation, and a sales-tax increase in April is hurting consumption. Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso signaled today that the government should prepare to increase spending to support the world’s third-biggest economy from the impact of a higher sales tax.

Female Support

About 67 percent of respondents to the Yomiuri poll and 58 percent of Nikkei respondents said they were impressed by Abe’s appointment of more women.

Forty-six percent of respondents to the Nikkei survey said they had a favorable opinion of his selection of former party leader Sadakazu Tanigaki as secretary-general of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Tanigaki is seen as being on the liberal wing of the party.

The Nikkei poll found support for Abe among female respondents rose 16 percentage points to 59 percent. Support among men was 62 percent.

All the media outlets conducted their surveys by phone on Sept. 3-4. The Nikkei surveyed 945 people, the Yomiuri 1,005, Kyodo 1,016, and the Mainichi 1,037.

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