Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has dropped below 50% for the first time in more than a year as respondents expressed dissatisfaction with his response to allegations of preferential treatment toward a conservative educator.
The cabinet’s approval rating plunged to 49% in a weekend poll by Nikkei Inc. and TV Tokyo, down 7 percentage points from May and 11 points compared with April. The government’s disapproval rating climbed 6 points to 42% — the highest since October 2015.
This marks the Abe cabinet’s most serious setback in public opinion since that year, when legislation expanding the armed forces’ remit ignited a public debate on Japan’s commitment to peace.
Now, the prime minister is facing allegations of favoritism over plans to establish a veterinary school in a government-designated special zone for deregulation. The prospective school operator, Kake Educational Institution, is headed by a friend of Abe’s.
The government insists that all of the proper procedures were followed in approving the new school. But a purported memo describing the project as in line with “the prime minister’s wishes” — a document whose credibility the government had questioned — has been found at the ministry of education after a second internal investigation.
The ruling coalition’s move to cut short the upper house debate on anti-conspiracy legislation also seems to have contributed to the drop in support. Among other things, the recently enacted law makes it a crime to plot terrorist attacks. Nearly half, or 47%, of respondents support the law, which has raised concerns among civil liberties groups, while 36% are opposed.
The cabinet’s approval rating fell among both men and women. Only 24% of respondents unaffiliated with any political party expressed support for the government, down 5 points from the previous survey.
Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday questioned the Central Statistical Organisation’s GDP growth figure and termed demonetisation a fixed match between the government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
He said demonetisation has interrupted India’s economic story and “to recover from this, it would take between 12-18 months, maybe right up to the end of 2017-18”.
“Look at the CSO’s numbers, it seems nothing has happened to the economy. The dazzle of the number cannot hide the fact that crores of people in the country have been devastated,” said Chidambaram.
“The government has changed the methodology. The Gross Value Addition (GVA), when they add taxes to it and subtract subsidies, they arrive at the GDP,” he added.
Chidambaram further said: “The additional tax revenue is not a reflection of growth. Equally being stingy on subsidies doesn’t impact growth.”
Giving out quarter-wise GVAs of three years, Chidambaram said: “In 2014-15, quarter-wise GVAs were 7.26, 7.91, 6.29 and 6.19 per cent. There is no particular trend. It went up and came down. In 2015-16, the numbers are 7.75, 8.44, 6.95 and 7.42 per cent. Again it doesn’t show any trend.
The OECD have published their latest indicators
- stable growth in EZ
- easing growth in Germany, Italy, US, UK and Japan
- stabilisation of growth in China
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