Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, ended the year facing political headwinds after the reconstruction minister became the fourth member of his scandal-plagued cabinet to resign in two months.
Kenyan Akiba announced his resignation on Tuesday after opposition lawmakers accused him of violating election law and of having links to the Unification Church, a controversial religious group. links to the ruling party Send Kishida’s approval ratings to record lows.
“I take my responsibility seriously as the one who sets the dates,” Kishida told reporters after Akiba’s resignation. “In living up to my political responsibilities, I hope to fulfill my duties as Prime Minister.”
Kishida effectively ordered Akiba to resign, according to Japanese media reports, in part to prevent the scandal from interfering with upcoming parliamentary debates over the budget bill, which includes Huge increase in defense spending which Kishida argued is necessary to counter the growing threats JapanSecurity from China and North Korea.
Akiba denied allegations of mismanagement of political and electoral funds and ties to the Unification Church – more commonly known as the Unification Church Money.
The revelation that the ultra-conservative religious group has links to large numbers of Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) politicians has haunted Kishida since Assassination In July of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Tetsuya Yamagami, who is suspected of shooting Abe while he was giving a campaign speech in the western city of Nara, told investigators he targeted the politician because he believed he had connections with the church, which he blamed for his family’s bankruptcy.
Akiba denied any links to the church, but acknowledged that the LDP branch he leads paid 48,000 yen (£299) to two entities linked to the group which he claimed were magazine subscriptions, according to Kyodo news agency.
Kishida has He ordered an investigation In the financial affairs of the Unification Church and its organization, this month support the new law to Helping victims of controversial fundraising methodsHowever, Akiba’s resignation sparked renewed criticism of his political rule.
Economic Revitalization Minister Daichiro Yamagiwa resigned in October after he failed to explain his ties to the church. Last month, Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi resigned after making an ill-conceived joke about the death penalty, while Home Affairs Minister Minoru Terada was effectively sacked over a political money scandal.
The ongoing debate over the Unification Church is expected to continue into next year, just as the government’s approval rating approaches its “risk level” of 30% and Kishida’s party faces potentially devastating local elections in the spring.
Support for the government has fallen to 33.1%, according to a Kyodo poll last week – its lowest level since Kishida. He became prime minister In October last year.
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