Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet support rating plunged 10 points to 36 percent, and the disapproval rate rose 9 points to 44 percent compared to May, a Mainichi Shimbun poll carried out on June 17 and 18 has found.
This is the first time the disapproval rate for Abe's Cabinet has surpassed the support rate since October 2015, and the first time the approval rate has fallen by 10 percentage points since the establishment of Abe's second Cabinet in December 2012. The change appears to be in response to the recent Kake Educational Institution scandal and the steamrolled revisions to the Act on Punishment of Organized Crimes and Control of Crime Proceeds, which criminalizes preparing for crimes such as terrorism by changing the conditions for conspiracy.
The Kake scandal erupted after the surface of documents suggesting that it was the "will" of the prime minister to fast track the opening of a new university veterinary department run by the institution headed by a friend of Abe in a national strategic economic zone. An investigation by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology confirmed the existence of the documents, but the government has denied that the prime minister's "will" was involved in the plans.
In this weekend's survey, 74 percent were not satisfied with the government's explanation, while only 10 percent answered that they were. Even 59 percent of those who support the Cabinet responded that they were not content with the government's accounts for the scandal. Those who thought the approval process for the veterinary school should be verified in the budget or other committees of both houses of the Diet even while the Diet is in recess made up 59 percent of respondents. In contrast, 26 percent believed there was no need to do so.
As for the "anti-conspiracy" law that allows for the punishment of a crime at the preparation level, opinions were more divided. While there were concerns that ordinary citizens may be targeted by the new law, 47 percent opposed it while 32 percent supported the new legislation.
However, 69 percent of respondents believed that the legislation was not properly debated in the Diet due to the ruling Liberal Democratic and Komeito parties bypassing the House of Councillors judiciary committee vote via an "interim report" and pushing the bill into law in the plenary session on June 15. Almost 60 percent of those who agreed with the revisions replied that there was insufficient debate, and only 12 percent of respondents overall believed the bill had been properly debated.