TOKYO -- Public support for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet has remained mired in the low 40s, hurt by a pair of favoritism scandals, as the disapproval rating hit a record 53% in the latest Nikkei/TV Tokyo survey.
Most respondents are not satisfied with Abe's explanations for the scandals.
The poll from Friday to Sunday showed the cabinet's approval rating at 42%, roughly unchanged from 43% of late April. The figure fell 14 percentage points to 42% in March following revelations that the Ministry of Finance had altered documents related to the sale of public land at a discount to nationalist school operator Moritomo Gakuen.
The disapproval rating reached the highest since the Abe returned as prime minister in 2012 and rose from 51% in the previous survey. This marked the first time in the second Abe government's run that those disapproving of the cabinet surpassed those approving of it for a third straight month.
In a separate scandal involving the establishment of a veterinary school by Kake Educational Institution, 74% of respondents were not satisfied with Abe's denial of involvement, while 16% were. Of those supporting the cabinet, 50% found the explanation acceptable and 33% did not.
Although Abe has held that he and his wife were not involved in the Moritomo document scandal, 68% of respondents said the prime minister has responsibility, while 23% said he does not.
On who should lead the ruling Liberal Democratic Party in September's election, Shinjiro Koizumi received 28% of the responses, the greatest share, followed by Abe at 24%. Koizumi, a son of former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, serves as the party's chief deputy secretary-general. Both men were tied at 26% in the previous survey.
They were trailed by former Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba at 23%, Internal Affairs Minister Seiko Noda at 5% and policy chief Fumio Kishida at 4%.
Among LDP supporters, Abe led with 45% of responses, followed by 21% for Ishiba and 19% for Koizumi. Among independents, 35% picked Koizumi, while 19% went for Ishiba and 11% chose Abe.
Asked whether Abe should meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, 68% of respondents said he should, while 23% saw no need. In the previous survey, 75% favored an Abe-Kim summit.
Forty-nine percent said they approve of U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement that he will cancel a meeting with Kim planned for next month, while 33% said they disapprove.
The survey was conducted by random-digit dialing, targeting those 18 and older in Japan. Responses were received from 975, or 46.6% of the total.