TOKYO (AP) _ Public support for embattled Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori has plunged to the second-lowest rating for a Japanese leader since the end of World War II, a newspaper poll showed Monday.

Mori's approval rating sank to 9 percent, from 19 percent last month, The Asahi newspaper survey said. It marked his lowest level of public support since taking office in April 2000.

His public approval rating has fallen steadily, partly because of repeated verbal gaffes evoking Japan's militaristic past.

Most recently, Mori was harshly criticized for finishing a round of golf on Feb. 9, after being told that a Japanese fishing boat had been hit by a U.S. Navy submarine off Hawaii.

The newspaper began taking polls to measure support for prime ministers in 1946. Prime Minister Noboru Takeshita's 7 percent approval rating in 1989 was the only one lower than Mori's. Takeshita later resigned amid an influence-peddling scandal.

The Asahi survey was conducted by telephone Saturday and Sunday and polled 1,195 eligible voters picked randomly. A total of 71 percent said Mori should resign. No margin of error was given.

Three members of Mori's Cabinet have quit amid scandals, including allegations of bribery and marital infidelity.