Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, his ratings battered by suspicion he helped a friend get favored treatment for a business, and criticism that he used strong-arm tactics in parliament, vowed on Monday to regain the people’s trust.
Abe also said he would start thinking “carefully” about reshuffling his cabinet and key party posts to get the right people to push ahead with reforms.
But he did not confirm a Nikkei business daily report that he would do so in August or September, and would retain Finance Minister Taro Aso and ally Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshide Suga.
A slew of public opinion polls have showed support for Abe’s cabinet slumping sharply, with the Mainichi newspaper reporting that his ratings had fallen 10 points to 36 percent, the biggest drop since he took office in December 2012.
Non-support for Abe rose to 44 percent, the first time it surpassed the percentage of backers since October 2015, after parliament enacted controversial security laws expanding the scope for military activities overseas, the Mainichi said.
Last week, the education ministry unearthed documents that the opposition said suggested Abe wanted a new veterinary school run by a friend to be approved in a state-run special economic zone. The ministry had earlier said it could not find the documents but reopened the investigation under public pressure.
Abe has denied abusing his authority to benefit his friend. On Monday, he repeated that procedures had not been “distorted” but acknowledged the government needed to win back public trust.

Continue reading...