Thu. Apr 25th, 2024

Four Japanese ministers, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno and Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, have submitted their resignations on Thursday.

The move follows a massive corruption scandal within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), leaving Prime Minister Fumio Kishida grappling with a severe cabinet crisis.

Allegations of kickbacks totaling 500 million yen ($3.4 million) have rocked the LDP, a party that has dominated Japan’s political landscape for decades. Media reports hint at imminent office raids and interviews with numerous lawmakers by prosecutors later this week.

Confirming the resignations, Matsuno stated that Nishimura, Internal Affairs Minister Junji Suzuki, and Agriculture Minister Ichiro Miyashita are stepping down. Special advisor to the prime minister, Michiko Ueno, and five deputy ministers are also leaving their positions.

Facing growing public distrust, Nishimura acknowledged the doubts surrounding him over political funds, emphasizing his desire to rectify the situation amidst ongoing investigations. Prime Minister Kishida pledged to confront the allegations directly, vowing to lead the LDP in restoring public trust.

Kishida, whose approval ratings have plummeted due to economic challenges and prior scandals, is now grappling with the fallout from kickbacks allegedly distributed to party members surpassing their fundraising event quotas. The scandal implicates the LDP’s largest faction, once led by the late Shinzo Abe.

The situation poses a significant challenge for Kishida, who had already undergone a cabinet reshuffle and unveiled a substantial stimulus package to revive the economy. Amid speculation of a potential snap election, analysts suggest that the removal of members from the influential Abe faction could complicate the Prime Minister’s governance, further weakening public support for the LDP. Despite the gravity of the scandal, uncertainties persist regarding a potential change in government given the current low public support for opposition parties.

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