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.
Chinese government vessels entered the waters surrounding the disputed Senkaku Islands for a third consecutive day Tuesday, in an apparent provocation designed to bolster President Xi Jinping’s standing at home following recent diplomatic disappointments.
Up to 13 coast guard vessels sailed through the contiguous zone beyond the territorial sea around the Senkakus, according to the Japanese coast guard. Four made a total of 10 entries into territorial waters around the islands, which they left by 7 p.m. that night.
Chinese government ships have now entered the waters on four separate days this month. Tuesday’s incident also marks China’s first time entering the area three days in a row since the end of 2012, right after Japan nationalized the islands, which China claims for itself as the Diaoyu.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida summoned Chinese Ambassador to Japan Cheng Yonghua to the ministry that day to protest the incursions.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also promised a fellow member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party that he would put every effort into the Senkakus issue.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is putting pressure on the fiscally conservative Ministry of Finance to satisfy expectations for a bold new shot of the first arrow of Abenomics — fiscal spending.
But critics say that the contents of the stimulus package matter more than its apparent size, which is easy to inflate. Some observers now see the tally rising to between 20 trillion yen and 30 trillion yen ($189 billion and $283 billion) after off-budget items are counted.
The chairman of business lobby Keidanren, Sadayuki Sakakibara, is among those urging “large-scale” on-budget expenditures, he told an audience in Nagano Prefecture on Thursday.
The trial balloon floated by the Finance Ministry missed expectations. There had been talk in the financial markets and elsewhere that general-account budget items alone — known as mamizu, or “fresh water,” in Japanese government jargon — would amount to 5 trillion yen to 10 trillion yen. Then came the revelation that flagging tax revenue growth and other constraints would leave less than 1 trillion yen available for stimulus.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was re-elected unopposed Tuesday as president of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The result came as senior LDP lawmaker Seiko Noda did not file candidacy for the top party post after apparently failing to muster the support of 20 party lawmakers required to run in the race to challenge Abe.
Abe’s current term as LDP president expires on Sept. 30. With his re-election, his term will last three more years until the end of September 2018.
Abe, 60, became the first LDP president to be re-elected without a vote since then Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto in 1997. Abe has vowed to continue to put his highest priority on the economy.
Noda, 55, a former chairwoman of the LDP General Council, held a news conference Tuesday morning and said she has given up filing candidacy.
Even if Noda had run, Abe was certain to be re-elected LDP president because all seven LDP factions had expressed their support.
Leaders and high-ranking officials from almost 50 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrived in the Chinese capital for the celebrations. However, a number of leaders, including Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rejected the invitations.
During the parade, Chinese President Xi Jinping, also the commander of the armed forces, announced that the number of Chinese troops would be cut by 300,000, as China remains committed to peace.
Currently, the Chinese military forces, the largest in the world, currently include over two million servicemen.
According to official sources, about 12,000 servicemen, mostly Chinese, took part in the Beijing parade, including 11 infantry phalanxes, a mechanized convoy of 27 formations and ten echelons of aviation.
Some 200 aircraft, 500 military vehicles, as well as various tanks and missiles were on display during the event, demonstrating China’s military might.
Considering that Shinzo Abe’s first reign as prime minister of Japan lasted precisely one year from September 26, 2006 until September 26 of the following year, when he voluntarily resigned due to diarrhea, the fact that he has managed to stay in power for nearly 3 years since ascending to power for the second time in December 2012 and unleashing the currency-crushing and market-surging policy of unprecedented debt and deficit monetization known as “Abenomics” is quite impressive.
It also confirms that as long as the stock market keeps going higher politicians have nothing to fear even if it means a total collapse in living standards for the rest of the population.
Yet even with the Nikkei pushing on 18 years highs, it appears that Abe may have reached his rigged market rating benefit cap, because even as the Nikkei was soaring, Abe’s approval rating was plunging.
As we reported a month ago, “Abe Cabinet’s approval rating plunged to 39%, matching a record low, as more than half of voters oppose the new US-sanctioned military/security legislation being debated in the Diet…. As his popularity has waned, Abe has become more and more desperate to keep support and has, for the first time in 70- years, lower the minimum voting age from 21 to 18.”
The Group of Seven countries on Monday threatened Russian president Vladimir Putin with new economic sanctions if Moscow escalated military backing for the separatists in eastern Ukraine.
With violence mounting once again in eastern Ukraine, the G7 leaders issued a much tougher warning to the Kremlin than had been expected, with Japan significantly hardening its line and backing a common approach with its partners, the US, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and the UK.
“We are concerned about the recent increase in fighting along the line of contact,” said the G7 in a statement at the end of the summit in southern German resort of Elmau.
Existing economic sanctions could be“rolled back” when Russia implemented its side of the Minsk ceasefire agreement signed in February. “However, we also stand ready to take further restrictive measures in order to increase the cost on Russia should its actions so require,” the leaders added.
President Barack Obama said discussions were taking place about additional measures that the G7 “might need to take if Russia, working through the separatists, doubled down on aggression inside of Ukraine”.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not attend an official ceremony in Moscow on May 9 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II because of a schedule conflict, the nation’s top government spokesman has said.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference on Tuesday that Japan’s ambassador to Russia will attend the ceremony instead.
Japan has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin for a visit but it was put off last year because of the Ukraine crisis.
Suga also said the rescheduling of Putin’s visit has not been decided.
Abe, eyeing Russia’s energy resources, had made improving ties a priority, but they have been strained by sanctions imposed by Tokyo on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis, as Tokyo seeks to stay in step with its close ally the United States.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe awoke on Wednesday to find a half-meter-wide drone, contaminated with trace levels of radioactive cesium, on the roof of his office in Tokyo. Of course this is nothing new for Washington where a drone crash-landed on The White House lawn in January and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Japan is looking to tighten laws governing drones (ahead of next year’s G7-summit and the 2020 Olympics). Of course, the police have explained cesium isn’t harmful to humans(though we suspect they aren’t stupid enough to drink it).
In a phone call with Shinzo Abe on April 1, Merkel urged the Prime Minister to have his country apply for founding membership status at the AIIB, which is expected to be fully established by 2015. The phone call has not been disclosed until recently, when Japanese government officials reportedly informed Japan’s Jiji Press agency on Wednesday.
Japan is a notable regional absentee from AIIB, which currently has 57 nations with founding member status, a number of which are key US allies.
The Obama administration, concerned with the expansion of Chinese influence in the Asia-Pacific, has been rallying allies and trade partners to forgo membership since Beijing announced plans to launch the development Bank in 2013. Yet, one by one, US allies have flocked to the AIIB.
European allies, including the UK and Germany, were among the first to join the Bank, setting off a proverbial domino effect that has been viewed as a snub to the White House’s warnings, as other nations followed suit. Now, the list of founding member applicants includes notable allies, such as Israel. Australia and South Korea were among the most recent regional allies to apply for membership in March, despite pressure from the Obama administration.