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37% have no expectations for new Abe Cabinet; support rate remains unchanged

Members of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new, fourth Cabinet pose for a photograph at the prime minister's office in Tokyo on the evening of Oct. 2, 2018. (Mainichi/Tatsuro Tamaki)

TOKYO -- Those with no expectations concerning Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's new Cabinet reached 37 percent, more than four times the 8 percent who said they have high expectation after the reshuffle, the results of a nationwide Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll has found.

Meanwhile, the support rate for the fourth Cabinet was 37 percent, unchanged from the last poll held in September. Those opposing the Abe administration stood at 40 percent, down 1 point from previous figures. It is the seventh month in a row since March that those opposing the Abe administration have outnumbered his supporters in a Mainichi Shimbun opinion poll. The poll was carried out on Oct. 6 and 7, covering 1,440 landline and mobile telephone number holders. A total of 1,005 people responded.

Abe announced the roster of his new Cabinet ministers on Oct. 2, following his victory in the Sept. 30 ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) presidential election, which earned him a third consecutive three-year term as party chief. However, the reshuffle did not change many of the core members of his administration, including Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Taro Aso.

When asked about the decision to keep Aso, only 25 percent of those polled were positive, while 61 percent opposed the move. Among LDP supporters, 48 percent approved of Aso staying in the Cabinet, while nearly as many -- 44 percent -- opposed the personnel decision. Among independents, 17 percent showed a positive stance while 69 percent did not. These numbers suggest that keeping Aso may have negatively affected what was hoped to be a rise in the Abe Cabinet's approval rating following the reshuffle.

When asked about the fact that only one female minister -- the smallest number every under Abe -- was appointed to the Cabinet, 38 percent responded that there should be more female ministers than just Satsuki Katayama, who was picked as the minister in charge of regional revitalization. On the other hand, 50 percent said there is no need to increase female representation among ministers.

Of the selection of Takashi Yamashita as the new minister of justice, 51 percent supported the change, while 31 percent were opposed. Yamashita belongs to an intraparty faction led by Abe's opponent in the LDP leadership race, former party Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba. Yamashita's appointment was seen by some as a reconciliatory gesture toward Ishiba and his base.

Support for the leading political parties came in at 31 percent for the LDP; 11 percent for the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan; 4 percent for Komeito, the junior coalition partner of the LDP; 3 percent for the Japanese Communist Party; and 2 percent for Nippon Ishin (Japan Innovation Party). Those without any party affiliation stood at a 40 percent.

(Japanese original by Yuri Hirabayashi, Opinion Poll Office)

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