Support for Abe Holds Up Despite Ally's Resignation Over Scandal

  • Akira Amari stepped down last week over corruption allegations
  • Mainichi poll shows leap in support, particularly among women

Public support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is holding up despite the resignation last week of a key cabinet ally over a graft scandal.

QuickTake Abenomics

Three media polls conducted over the weekend show the approval rating of Abe’s cabinet improved from December:

  • Yomiuri: 56 percent; up 2 percentage points
  • Mainichi: 51 percent; up 8 points
  • Kyodo: 54 percent; up 4 points

The lack of public anger over tabloid claims that former Economy Minister Akira Amari took cash from a construction company in return for political favors may help the ruling coalition’s push to rejuvenate a tepid economy ahead of summer elections. The scandal has already delayed debate on the budget for the fiscal year starting April.

Abe initially urged Amari, a key engineer of his economic policies who led negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership regional trade deal, to stay on in his job after a weekly magazine published the allegations that Amari and his staff took bribes from a construction company. At a press conference Thursday, Amari denied pocketing any money before tearfully announcing his resignation, saying he couldn’t allow the fuss over the issue to hamper Abe’s economic program.

Abe quickly moved to appoint Nobuteru Ishihara, son of the fiery former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, as a replacement for Amari. Fifty percent of respondents to the Mainichi newspaper said they did not approve of the choice, while 31 percent said they did.

The Mainichi found support for Abe among women, until now markedly less likely than men to approve of Abe, rose by 9 percentage points. Support among men rose by 5 points.

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