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Abe Cabinet's support rate falls to 35.8%, lowest for current admin

The approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has
fallen 9.1 points from June to 35.8 percent, the lowest level since
Abe commenced his second stint as premier in 2012, a Kyodo News poll
showed Sunday.

In the nationwide telephone survey conducted Saturday and
Sunday, 77.8 percent of respondents said they were not convinced by
the government's denial of claims that Abe used his influence to
secure the approval of a new department at a university run by a
close friend.

The disapproval rating for Abe's Cabinet stood at 53.1 percent,
up 10 points from June. Among those who expressed disapproval, 51.6
percent said the prime minister cannot be trusted, up 9.7 points.

The Cabinet's support ratings have fallen since the ruling
parties forced through a controversial law to penalize the planning
of a range of crimes and allegations surfaced of favoritism by Abe in
connection with the project to construct the new university
department.

More than 62 percent said it was a "problem" that Kake
Educational Institution, run by Abe's close friend Kotaro Kake, had
been selected to open the veterinary medicine department in a
government-designated specially deregulated zone in Ehime Prefecture.

The ruling Liberal Democratic Party, headed by Abe, suffered a
crushing defeat in the Tokyo metropolitan assembly election earlier
this month and the prime minister is planning to overhaul his Cabinet
and senior LDP posts possibly on Aug. 3, sources close to the matter
said earlier.

Regarding the planned reshuffle, 57 percent of respondents did
not have positive expectations, while 41 percent did.

Of the respondents, 73.1 percent said Abe's failure to replace
Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, amid questions about her competence,
was unacceptable.

During a campaign speech for the Tokyo metropolitan assembly
election, Inada implied the Self-Defense Forces' support for the LDP
candidate, a remark viewed as undermining the political neutrality of
the defense forces.

On Abe's drive to amend the country's Constitution for the first
time, the survey showed that 54.8 percent were opposed to amending it
under the Abe administration, while 32.6 percent expressed support.

The LDP is gearing up toward amending the 1947 supreme law after
Abe proposed in May revising its war-renouncing Article 9. In the
following month, he urged the LDP to compile amendment proposals for
discussion during an extraordinary Diet session likely to be convened
in the fall.

Of the respondents, 61.7 percent said the LDP should submit the
amendment proposal to the Diet session in fall, while 29.3 percent
said the party should not.

As for party affiliation, 31.9 percent said they backed Abe's
LDP, down 2.4 points, while support for the main opposition
Democratic Party fell 2.2 points to 8.2 percent.

The survey covering 740 randomly selected households with
eligible voters as well as 1,069 mobile phone numbers received
responses from 509 and 506 people, respectively.

Kyodo News has made calls to mobile phones in addition to
landlines since April. (July 16)