World

Japanese PM to reshuffle cabinet after Tokyo loss

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will reshuffle his cabinet and party leaders early next month, moving to shore up his worst levels of popular support since returning to power in 2012, following a historic loss in a Tokyo assembly election.

Last week's loss, delivered by a novice political group, spotlights Mr Abe's potential vulnerability after nearly five years in power, with many blaming voter perceptions of arrogance on his part and that of his powerful Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr Yoshihide Suga.

Opinion polls yesterday showed Mr Abe's popularity at its lowest since late 2012, with support of 36 per cent in one conducted by the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper - tumbling from 49 per cent a month earlier.

Another, in the liberal Asahi, found support of 33 per cent, a slide from 38 per cent from a week earlier, with 60 per cent of independent voters not supporting Mr Abe's cabinet - numbers Mr Suga said the premier was aware of.

"I believe he wants to sincerely accept this as the voice of the people," Mr Suga told a news conference. - REUTERS

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