August 4, 2017 / 10:12 AM / 16 days ago

Japan PM Abe's support rebounds after cabinet reshuffle

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference after reshuffling his cabinet, at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, August 3, 2017.Kim Kyung-hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's support bounced up after a cabinet reshuffle, media polls showed on Friday, a development likely to help tighten his grip on power, shaken by recent scandals and a crushing loss in Tokyo elections.

Abe opted for safe hands over fresh faces in Thursday's cabinet reshuffle after gaffes and missteps by some in his previous cabinet, such as former Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, sent his support ratings tumbling.

Many of those in the new lineup, which Abe dubbed the "result-oriented cabinet of professionals", were reappointed, such as Finance Minister Taro Aso, or returned to posts held before, including Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera.

A poll by the Mainichi newspaper showed 35 percent of respondents support Abe's government, up nine points from a month ago, while a Kyodo news agency survey showed a rise in support of 8.6 points from the previous poll, to 44.4 percent.

Abe apologized for recent scandals at the outset of a nationally televised news conference following the reshuffle, bowing his head for about eight seconds, and then reiterated that his top priority is reviving the economy.

Inada, an Abe protege, stepped down as defense minister last week after a series of gaffes and a cover-up at her ministry.

Abe himself has been embroiled in a suspected cronyism scandal, having had to repeatedly deny doing any favors to help a friend win approval for a veterinary school.

Appearing on a television program on Friday, Abe expressed resolve to work hard to win back the people's trust.

"What's been asked of us is to firmly show results," he added.

Major tasks ahead are putting an end to deflation and working closely with the United States and regional nations to defuse the threat from North Korea's nuclear and missile development.

Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka and Elaine Lies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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