A recent Mainichi Shimbun poll showed a ten-point drop in Japan Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s approval rating for the second month in a row, making it less and less likely that Abe will be chosen as the Liberal Democratic Party’s leader next year, and undermining his goal of revising the Japanese constitution. According to a July 25 Guardian article on Prime Minister Abe’s declining support, multiple former prime ministers left office within nine months of reaching approval ratings below 30%, so the downward trend in Abe’s approval ratings may mean that a bounce-back is unlikely for the Prime Minister. The Guardian article included commentary from a range of experts on the topic, including Sasakawa USA Fellow for Trade, Economy, and Business Tobias Harris.
In the article, Harris pointed to diminished public trust in Abe as the main indicator that the Prime Minister’s approval ratings will remain low. “Each poll has shown that, unlike earlier dips in Abe’s approval ratings, the slump is driven by falling trust in Abe himself and not disapproval of his policies,” said Mr. Harris. “Abe himself is the problem, and it’s not at all clear what he can do to regain the public’s trust after months of battling scandal allegations. For me, that’s the main reason for believing that he won’t be able to recover from this slide.”
Despite Abe’s fading fortunes, Harris predicts that instead of resigning in the near future, Prime Minister Abe will choose to leave office in September 2018 instead of seeking another term as Prime Minister, “which strengthens his hand as a kingmaker after leaving office.”