TOKYO (AFP) – Support for the administration of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has slumped after the resignation of two female ministers, an opinion poll showed Sunday.
The support rate for Abe’s cabinet fell nine percentage points to 53 per cent in a survey conducted by the leading Yomiuri Shimbun daily on Friday and Saturday.
The disapproval rate rose to 37 per cent, up seven points from the previous poll earlier this month.
“Abe pushed up his approval rate after appointing women to ministerial posts in the cabinet reshuffle in September, but this time he saw the double resignations of female ministers pushing it down,” the Yomiuri said.
Abe, who has enjoyed relatively high approval rates since taking power in December 2012, suffered a double setback last week with the resignations of the two female cabinet ministers over claims they misused political funds.
Industry minister Yuko Obuchi and justice minister Midori Matsushima quit after days of allegations that they had misspent money in what opponents insisted was an attempt to buy votes.
Their loss dealt a blow to Abe’s widely-praised move in September to promote five women to his administration.
Abe swiftly appointed replacements for the ministers. But one of them, new Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa, is already facing pressure after only a few days.
Miyazawa, 64, has admitted his underlings spent office cash at an S&M bar. He also faces questions about shares he holds in Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.
The veteran politician’s portfolio oversees the energy sector and is partly responsible for persuading a sceptical public that it is safe to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors. They were switched off in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
Miyazawa has denied any conflict of interest over the shares and insisted he would never sell them.