Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was forced to defend himself at special session of the lower house budget committee on Monday, when he was grilled by opposition lawmakers over the selection process for the establishment of a new veterinary school, won by an institution headed by a close friend.
The interrogation comes after the latest polls show the public feels Abe has failed to explain himself over the issue, pushing his cabinet’s approval rating to a historic low. Abe and his opponents remained at loggerheads during the discussion.
The controversy surrounds Kake Gakuen, a private school operator that in January won approval for the establishment of Japan’s first veterinary school in 52 years as a part of the government’s regulatory reform initiative. Kake Gakuen’s chief Kotaro Kake is a longtime friend of Abe’s, and a document has emerged implying the prime minister intervened in the selection process. Opposition parties have argued the result was a foregone conclusion.
During the session, Abe was repeatedly questioned by opposition parties over his involvement in the selection process.
In response, Abe said that he had never requested preferential treatment be given to Kake and that the institution had never asked for favors. “There was no request or lobbying [from Kake] regarding the establishment of the new veterinary school,” Abe stressed.
Asked if he had intervened in the approval process, Abe said “I have never given instructions regarding specific cases, though I have ordered regulatory reform be advanced swiftly.” He said that the first he knew of the plan to establish the school was on January 20, when Kake was selected.
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.
It appears that if you want to be liked by the American public, go to war. After a non-stop plunge to record low ratings for a new president, Rasmussen’s most recent data shows President Trump’s favorability surging to 2-month highs since he started rattling sabres around the world.
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 50% of Likely U.S. Voters approve of President Trump’s job performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove. This is the first time the president’s overall approval rating has been back in the 50s in nearly a month. Just after his inauguration, Trump’s job approval peaked at 59% and remained in the 50s every day until early March. It’s gone as low as 42% since then. The latest figures for Trump include 30% who Strongly Approve of the way Trump is performing and 39% who Strongly Disapprove. This gives him a Presidential Approval Index rating of -9.
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who is facing a tough time in his political career due to the back to back defeats across the country, is once again making the headlines. This time Rahul has been into the limelight for a completely unique reason. Vishal Diwan, who is an engineering student from Hoshangabad Madhya Pradesh has approached to the Guinness Book of World Records and requested to enlist Rahul Gandhi’s name for losing as many as 27 elections in the country.
Diwan believes that the fact that Congress party has lost 27 elections in the span of 5 years is somewhere a result of Rahul Gandhi’s active participation in election campaigning and media interactions. As a matter of fact, this number consistent losses are more than enough to get qualified for the record book. In order to fulfill his wish, Diwan has written a letter to the administration of Guinness Books and have also paid the enrollment fees for the same. Diwan has received the confirmation of acceptance of his application, but the US-based record book have not confirmed whether it will approve such request or not.
Allow me to start with the necessary disclaimer. I am a real estate developer—one of those who flout laws, try to make unfair and egregious profits and are constantly plotting and scheming to harm customers. I am glad to note that the new government plans to support laws that were conceived by its predecessor.
The real estate sector in India is hugely under-regulated. Every building, before construction, requires 15 approvals and 15 NOCs (incidentally, the expression “No Objection Certificate” is peculiar to India. I have done business in 15 countries. No other country has this wondrous and beautiful requirement). Every building, after construction, requires 5 approvals and 5 NOCs. But the industry is under-regulated and you are all honourable men and women. It is a universally understood fact in modern India that the principal reason a new law is passed is in order to provide more jobs for serving and retired bureaucrats. It is a brilliant idea to set up 27 (one at the Centre and one in each state) real estate regulators. The person at the helm of each of these regulatory offices should be a civil servant of the rank of a secretary at least. Additionally, each office needs at least two additional secretaries, four joint secretaries, eight deputy secretaries and sixteen under-secretaries, making for 837 important jobs, or posts as our great government prefers to call them.