TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe named new foreign, defense and other ministers, bidding to shore up plummeting public approval ratings and head off potential unrest within his party by giving cabinet posts to experienced lawmakers from outside his close circle.

A series of political scandals in recent months, including allegations that Abe provided favors for friends—charges he denies—have threatened the prime minister’s leadership. Recent polls have shown public support for Abe’s government below 30%, a record low.

Voters have identified a lack of trust in Abe himself as a major reason for declining support, potentially making it more difficult for him to push through contentious objectives such as amending the nation’s pacifist constitution and exposing the economy to more foreign competition through free-trade deals.

The cabinet overhaul appeared designed to restore support in the government, as well as indicate Abe is willing to embrace a wider range of views within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, analysts said.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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