Japan PM's Approval Ratings Dive Over Land Sale Scandal

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe with his head in his hands

Putin's victory in the polls extends his rule until 2024, but Abe's public support has been pummelled by a scandal over the sale of public land to a school supported by his wife and subsequent alterations to documents relating to the deal.

The sharp drop in Abe's popularity could endanger his chances for a third term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a three-year extension of his prime ministership.

The Asahi Shimbun conducted the nationwide survey over the weekend after the Finance Ministry admitted it had submitted falsified documents to the Diet on the hugely discounted sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen, a private school operator.

A controversial land deal is dominating debate at the Japanese Diet. The party says they need more time to decide.

 Ministry after Akie Abe was quoted by Moritomo chief Yasunori Kagoike as saying, "Please go ahead with" the project in her talks with a ministry official in April 2014.

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Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe answers questions during a budget committee session of the upper house in Tokyo on March 19, 2018.

References to Abe, his wife, and Aso were removed from the finance ministry´s records of the sale, copies of documents released by the ministry showed.Both men have denied any wrongdoing in the affair.But 66.1 percent of respondents to a poll conducted by Kyodo news agency on Saturday and Sunday said they felt the premier had some responsibility for the altered documents.

Former defence minister Shigeru Ishiba, 61, won the support of most respondents, followed by LDP rising star Shinjiro Koizumi, 36. The LDP is due to hold a leadership vote in September.

Japan and Russian Federation were both members of the six-party talks, which also involved China, the U.S. and both Koreas.

His successor, Mitsuru Ota, told lawmakers that Sagawa had not even explained to other ministry officials how he was involved in the document alterations.

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"The big question for voters is, 'What should we do after replacing Abe?' That's why the approval rate rebounded a year ago", he said.

At the same time, Abe acknowledged that it was only natural for the public to cast a suspicious eye on the country's first couple after his wife was named honorary principal of the school.

The support rate was down 13 percentage points from 44 percent in the February poll, while the non-support rate jumped to 48 percent from 37 percent.

But the opposition is demanding that Abe fall on his sword over the issue.

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