Japan's ruling party needs introspection, efforts to address tumbling cabinet approval rating: secretary-general

2017-06-19 10:20:31 GMT2017-06-19 18:20:31(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

TOKYO, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Japan's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai said Monday that the ruling party would have to take a good look at itself and make all-out efforts to gain the support of a skeptical public, following recent polls showing that the Cabinet's approval rating had tumbled.

According to a Kyodo News poll taken over the weekend and released Sunday, the Cabinet's approval rating plummeted 10.5 points from May to 44.9 percent.

The party will have to "reflect and strive to bounce back," Nikai said in response to the survey's results, which also showed that the disapproval rating for the Cabinet stood at 43.1 percent, up 8.8 points.

According to the poll, many of those surveyed said they did not feel certain by the government repeatedly saying that no favoritism had been given by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to one of his close friends in the planned opening of a new school in a deregulated area.

Of those that disapproved of the Cabinet, 41.9 percent said Abe could not be trusted, the poll showed, while 73.8 percent of respondents said they remained unconvinced by the government's denial of the favoritism allegations.

As well as the favoritism scandal involving the education ministry, Cabinet Office and the prime minister, and school operator Kake Educational Institution, the poll came amid public discontent at the ruling party ramming a contentious "conspiracy" bill into law and circumnavigating some legislative procedures to achieve this.

The forced passage of the bill into law saw thousands of protestors take to the streets across the nation, arguing that the new law could violate civil liberties and give undue powers of surveillance to law enforcement personnel, as well as criminalize people and groups before a crime has been committed.

Others were irate at the way the ruling bloc once again forced the passage of the bill into law by using its parliamentary majority, dodging legislative protocol in the upper house and not gaining the understanding of the public.

The plunging approval rating for the Cabinet also comes ahead of the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election, that will see the the Tokyo chapter of the LDP pitched against Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike who has formed her own party.

The poor results of the poll have led some analysts to speculate that Abe could reshuffle his Cabinet at some point this year in a bid to curry more favor from the public.

A Cabinet reshuffle was something that Nikai did not rule out when talking to a news conference on the matter Monday.

"A reshuffle could serve to change the mood," Nikai was quoted as saying.

Abe's top government spokesperson commenting on the poll remained stoic, despite the sinking ratings.

"It's better for the approval rating to be higher than lower, but we shouldn't fret over it moving around," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

"The Abe Cabinet will steadily push forward policies that are truly necessary for the public," he added.

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