Another scandal-hit Japanese Minister resigns
Japan’s reconstruction minister Kenya Akiba resigned on Tuesday following allegations of his involvement in political funding and other scandals.
Tokyo: Japan’s reconstruction minister Kenya Akiba resigned on Tuesday following allegations of his involvement in political funding and other scandals.
Akiba, who was effectively sacked by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is the fourth minister to resign over similar funding and other scandals since October, as the approval rating for the cabinet approaches the critical 30 per cent level, reports Xinhua news agency.
Kishida has decided to appoint former reconstruction minister Hiromichi Watanabe to take over Akiba’s portfolio.
Watanabe held the position between 2018 and 2019.
Akiba’s dismal came amid mounting calls from the opposition bloc for him to step down following revelations he reportedly paid his state-paid secretaries for helping with his re-election campaign in the October 2021 lower house election, which would be in violation of Japan’s election law.
Akiba also admitted that two political groups connected to him were paid 14 million yen ($105,000) in “rent payments” to his wife and mother, who own his office in his constituency in Sendai City, between 2011 and 2020.
The scandal-hit minister also flip-flopped over his connection to a controversial religious group, having first denied any links.
Opposition party members were gearing up to continue to grill Akiba over the scandals during the ordinary Diet session set to begin next month.
But his sacking, political observers here said, was motivated in part by the government and the ruling Liberal Democratic Party wanting to avoid delays on the passage of key bills being passed during the session by the opposition camp taking further aim at Akiba.
Adding to Kishida’s woes ahead of local elections in April, meanwhile, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Internal Affairs and Communications Mio Sugita also resigned on Tuesday after being heavily criticized for making discriminatory remarks against minority groups.