Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Responds to Journalists, April 14, 2018 in Tokyo
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces new challenges, cornered by the reappearance of a second scandal of favoritism and a growing public discontent illustrated by a major demonstration Saturday and polls at half mast.
Already weakened by charges relating to a real estate transaction that resurfaced in March, Mr. Abe is this time weakened by another old case.
He is suspected of having influenced the decisions of the administration in favor of a long-time friend in awarding the creation of a new veterinary faculty.
An official document dating from 2015 emerged last week, describing this establishment as „an affair concerning the prime minister“.
The popularity of Shinzo Abe has collapsed in recent weeks and now stands at only 31%, according to a survey published Monday by the daily Asahi. Another survey, conducted by the Kyodo news agency, shows a drop of 5.4 percentage points to 37%, one of the worst results ever since his return to power at the end of 2012.
Demonstration to demand the resignation of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, April 14, 2018 in Tokyo
On Saturday, thousands of protesters went to Parliament calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister, an unusually large gathering in Japan.
The other scandal concerns a lot that was sold at one tenth of its market value in 2016 to the manager of a nationalist kindergarten. A primary school was to be built there, and the director decided to make Mr. Abe’s wife the honorary director of the school.
The case recently came to the fore with the revelation that the Defense Ministry had falsified documents related to the transaction.
In both cases, Shinzo Abe denies any involvement, but this black series casts doubt on his chances of winning the election at the head of his party scheduled for September, which would make him the Japanese prime minister with the greatest longevity.
A win seems „difficult,“ said his former mentor, the flamboyant Junichiro Koizumi, who led the government from 2001 to 2006, in an interview this weekend with local media.
In this turbulent political context, Abe travels Tuesday to the United States to meet Donald Trump and try to give a place in Japan in the current diplomatic ballet on North Korea.