Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (not pictured) deliver joint statements to the media at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels, Belgium July 6, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Vidal
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 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, Yoshihide Suga.
Opinion polls on Monday showed Abe's popularity at its lowest since he returned to power late in 2012, with support of 36 percent in one conducted by the conservative Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper - tumbling from 49 percent a month earlier.
Another, in the liberal Asahi, found support of 33 percent, a slide from 38 percent from a week earlier, with 60 percent of independent voters not supporting Abe's cabinet - numbers Suga said the premier was aware of.
"I believe he wants to sincerely accept this as the voice of the people," Suga told a news conference, adding that the administration needed to "be even more earnest" about tasks such as rebuilding the economy.
Abe, in Europe for a summit of leaders of the G20 grouping of nations, told traveling media he would retain core officials in the reshuffle of the cabinet and ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) officials planned for August.
"I will reshuffle the LDP leadership and the Cabinet members early next month, aiming to renew peoples' feelings," Jiji news agency quoted Abe as saying in Stockholm.
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