Kishida to overhaul scandal-hit cabinet

TOKYO, Japan, Dec 14 – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Wednesday he plans to announce cabinet changes on Thursday amid mounting pressure triggered by political fundraising scandals and expressed his intention to lead the efforts for recovery of trust.

“We are continuing to adjust the details of personnel changes and plan to announce them tomorrow,” Kishida said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Some cabinet members and senior party officials from Seiwaken, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, previously led by the late former prime minister Shinzo Abe, are suspected of failing to report hundreds of millions of yen in revenue from ticket sales for party fundraisers.

It is reported that several ministers, including Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, will be replaced.

Matsuno is accused of failing to report more than 10 million yen ($68,555) in income from events hosted by his party faction. He served as the faction’s secretary-general from 2019 to 2021, managing its day-to-day affairs.

Apart from Matsuno, Yasutoshi Nishimura, minister of economy, trade and industry; Junji Suzuki, minister for internal affairs and communications; and Ichiro Miyashita, minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, will also be dismissed due to scandals, Japanese media reported.

“There is a strong sense of crisis that needs to be shared among the LDP executives for the current situation. I have directly conveyed this sense of urgency to the party executives and emphasized the need to tackle this issue,” Kishida said.

The first step is to scrutinize the facts, confirm them, and then respond appropriately. Furthermore, an explanation must be provided to the public, he said.

“And on top of that, we must earnestly address the revealed causes and issues, and produce results,” Kishida said.

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With regard to how to deal with other politicians who may have the same problem, he said the LDP wants to seriously investigate and assess what kind of system should be in place to avoid such concerns.

When asked by the press if he has the determination to resign and show his commitment in addressing this issue, Kishida said he does not “have the luxury” to think about whether he will dissolve the House of Representatives or what he will do in next year’s leadership election.

The approval rating for Kishida’s cabinet slid to 25 percent, the lowest level for any administration since the LDP returned to power in 2012, according to results from an Asahi Shimbun survey conducted from Nov 18 to 19.

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