Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Saturday Shinzo Abe is unlikely to win a third term in September's Liberal Democratic Party presidential election, citing the public's growing distrust in the premier after a string of recent scandals.
"Winning a third term will be tough as he is losing public trust," Koizumi told reporters in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture. Securing the LDP presidency is seen a prerequisite for Abe to stay on as prime minister.
Touching on the scandal over the heavily discounted sale of state land to a school operator linked to the Japanese leader, Koizumi pointed out Abe's troubles stem from his pledge to quit as premier and lawmaker if he or his wife Akie were to found being involved in the deal.
Noting that Abe's wife briefly served as the honorary principal of an elementary school that the school operator Moritomo Gakuen planned to open on the land, the outspoken former leader said, "How can he say that he is not related (to the matter)?"
Abe returned to office in December 2012 after the LDP wrested power from the Democratic Party of Japan and has become the third-longest serving prime minister in postwar Japan behind Eisaku Sato and Shigeru Yoshida.
While prime ministers in Japan tend to hold power for relatively short periods of time compared with other major developed countries, Koizumi himself managed to stay in the top job from 2001 to 2006.