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Japan PM Abe's support rate falls to 39 percent amid scandal doubts

Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's support rate fell 9.4 points to 39.3 percent in a survey by Jiji news agency released on Friday, as suspicions swirl over a suspected cronyism scandal and possible cover-up. That was below the 40.4 percent who do not support Abe.

Abe and his finance minister, Taro Aso, 77, have been under fire since the finance ministry admitted on March 12 that it had altered records relating to a discount sale of state-owned land to school operator Moritomo Gakuen, which had ties to Abe's wife, Akie. Abe and Aso have both denied wrongdoing.

But opposition parties are calling for Aso to resign, while the affair could dash Abe's hopes of winning a third three-year term as head of his Liberal Democratic Party in a September party leadership election.

(Reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Chang-Ran Kim)