PM Abe’s falls in media polls amid scandal woes

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TOKYO — Support for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, plagued by accusations of cronyism and cover-ups, fell to 26.7% in a survey by Nippon TV released on Sunday, the lowest since he took office in December 2012.

Mr. Abe’s sliding ratings are raising doubts over whether he can win a third three-year term as ruling Liberal Democratic Party leader in a September vote he needs to win to stay in office or whether he might even resign before the party election.

Mr. Abe last week denied again that he intervened to ensure preferential treatment for educational institution Kake Gakuen, run by his friend Kotaro Kake, to set up a veterinary school. He has also denied that he or his wife intervened in a heavily discounted sale of state-owned land to another school operator, Moritomo Gakuen, with ties to his wife.

Another survey released on Sunday by Kyodo news agency put Mr. Abe’s support at 37%, down 5.4 points. The polls come ahead of Mr. Abe’s summit this week with US President Trump, where he faces a tough agenda including North Korea’s threat and sticky trade issues.

Former cabinet minister Shigeru Ishiba, who has said he wants to challenge Mr. Abe, topped the list of politicians that respondents to the Kyodo survey saw as best suited to become the next premier, with 26.6%. — AFP