The support rate for Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet has tumbled recently over a school land deal scandal, according to various media surveys.
According to a Kyodo News poll released on Sunday, the support rate for Abe’s cabinet dropped to 55.7 percent, down 6 percentage points from last month.
A total of 86.5 percent of the respondents to the telephone survey over the weekend said that the purchase of a state-owned land at a heavily reduced price by Moritomo Gakuen, a private school operator reportedly having close ties with Abe’s wife, was inappropriate.
While 74.6 percent of the respondents supported the opposition parties’ demand that Yasunori Kagoike, head of Moritomo Gakuen, shall be summoned to a parliamentary session to explain the controversial deal.
A different poll by Japan News Network, a local commercial television news network, showed last week that the support rate for Abe’s cabinet dropped 4.4 percentage points to 61 percent compared with a month ago.
An online poll by Nihon Keizai Shimbun last week showed a more drastic fall, with the support rate for Abe’s cabinet down to 36.1 percent compared to 63.7 percent 10 days earlier. The non-support rate, meanwhile, rose to 63.9 percent.
Moritomo Gakuen, a private school operator, reportedly bought a 8,770-square-meter piece of land last June in Toyonaka, Osaka Prefecture, for 134 million yen (1.2 million U.S. dollars), equivalent to only 14 percent of its appraisal price.
The land, according to local reports, had been intended for a new elementary school to be opened in April with the prime minister’s wife Akie as its honorary principal.
Abe has denied in parliament that he and his wife had anything to do with the scandal and said that his wife Akie had stepped down in her role as would-be honorary principle of the school.
He also said that he had rejected a request to have the school bear his name and he was unaware that his name had been used in seeking donations for the school. Moritomo Gakuen withdrew its application to the local government for approval to open a new elementary school earlier this week, and Kagoike indicated that he would resign in a bid to end the turmoil. Enditem