Tokyo, July 25 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s popular support rating has plummeted below 30 per cent over his role in a cronyism scandal, according to polls released on Tuesday.
Abe’s popularity has plunged by nearly 15 points since June, when he was accused of using his influence to help close friend Kotaro Kake win a bid to set up a veterinary school, reports Efe news.
Japan has not granted license to new veterinary schools for more than 50 years, owing to surplus veterinary doctors in the country.
The new school was to be set up in the Ehime prefecture in the south of Hiroshima, part of a national deregulated zone, where these rules are relaxed.
The scandal has roiled Japan and led to the crushing defeat of his party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan, in two key regional elections.
Several surveys published by Japanese media between the weekend and Tuesday reveal popular support rates for Abe at around 30 per cent, ranging from 39 per cent in survey by Nikkei daily to 26 per cent as indicated in a survey by the newspaper Mainichi.
Abe, who came to power in 2012, has made several parliamentary appearances to explain the accusations, including a five-hour hearing before a parliamentary committee on Monday where he denied any favouritism toward his friend.
He, however, admitted that his close friendship with Kake might have led to misperceptions about him being granted favours.
His explanations, however, failed to satisfy either the opposition or popular public opinion or stem the growing criticism against him.
The case prompted Abe to announce a reshuffle of his cabinet to be announced next week, according to local media reports.