Third Japanese cabinet minister in a month resigns in blow to PM

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TOKYO, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Japan’s interior minister resigned on Sunday over a funding scandal. He is the third cabinet member to leave in less than a month, a major blow to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s already shaky support.

Kishida’s approval ratings have plummeted after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July exposed deep and long-standing ties between ruling politicians from the Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church, a group critics say is a cult.

Interior Minister Minoru Terada tendered his resignation to Kishida after media reports emerged that the prime minister was preparing to sack him. Kishida on Monday appointed Takeaki Matsumoto, a former secretary of state, as Terada’s successor.

“The basis of political engagement is public trust,” Kishida told reporters after appointing Matsumoto. “As a politician, I have to secure the public’s trust by strengthening and inspecting my environment”.

A poll conducted over the weekend, before Terada’s resignation, showed that only 30.5% of respondents approved of Kishida, down 2.6 points from an October survey, Asahi TV said Monday.

Just over half, 51%, disapproved of the way he had handled the resignations of two previous ministers, Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa and Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi.

Terada, under fire over several funding scandals, has acknowledged that one of its support groups submitted funding documentation purportedly signed by a dead person.

Kishida said he accepted Terada’s resignation to prioritize parliamentary debates, including discussions about a second additional budget for the fiscal year ending in March.

Asked about the fact that three ministers have resigned since Oct. 24, Kishida said he would like to apologize.

“I feel a heavy responsibility,” he told reporters on Sunday.

Terada’s departure could further weaken the embattled prime minister, whose support rates have remained below 30% in several recent polls, a level that may make it difficult for him to carry out his political agenda.

Having led the LDP to an election victory days after Abe was shot on the campaign trail, Kishida was widely expected to enjoy a “golden three years” with no need for a national election until 2025.

Abe’s suspected killer said his mother was bankrupted by the Unification Church and blamed Abe for promoting it. The LDP has acknowledged that many legislators have ties to the church, but no organizational ties to the party.

A vast majority of voters also disapproved of Kishida’s decision to hold a state funeral for Abe in late September.

Yamagiwa resigned on October 24 over his ties to the religious group, and Kishida came under fire for what voters saw as his late and clumsy handling of the situation.

Further damage came from Justice Minister YasuhiroHanashi’s resignation in mid-November over comments seen as clarifying his job responsibilities, particularly authorizing executions.

Hanashi and Terada’s resignations will probably be particularly painful because they were members of Kishida’s faction in the LDP.

Reporting by Elaine Lies and Kantaro Komiya; Edited by Gerry Doyle and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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