Japan Loses Fourth Minister in 2 Months

On Tuesday, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida accepted the resignation of the minister for reconstruction, Kenya Akiba, amid allegations that he mishandled political and election funds and has ties to the controversial Unification Church — marking the fourth cabinet minister to leave in two months.

Japan Loses Fourth Minister in 2 Months
Image credit: taipeitimes

Facts

  • On Tuesday, Japanese PM Fumio Kishida accepted the resignation of the minister for reconstruction, Kenya Akiba, amid allegations that he mishandled political and election funds and has ties to the controversial Unification Church — marking the fourth cabinet minister to leave in two months.
  • After meeting with Kishida, Akiba told reporters that he made "a heavy decision and submitted [his] resignation," though he has repeatedly claimed that he never violated any of the laws of which he's being accused.
  • Though he's denied any links to the Unification Church, Akiba did acknowledge that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) branch that he leads donated funds to entities with ties to the church for what he claims were magazine subscriptions.
  • The resignation of Akiba, who will be replaced by former reconstruction minister Hiromichi Watanabe, comes as parliamentary vice-minister for internal affairs Mio Sugita also submitted her resignation after retracting and apologizing for past comments she made in which she called sexual minorities "unproductive."
  • The other accepted resignations include Kishida's economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa, who failed to explain his alleged ties to the church; the justice minister, Yasuhiro Hanashi, who reportedly made a joke about the death penalty; and internal affairs minister, Minoru Terada, who was involved in a funding related scandal.
  • Though Kishida was seen as a stable choice when he won the July elections, his popularity has plummeted since revelations around the LDP's connection to the church arose in the wake of former PM Shinzo Abe's death that month. While he hasn't ruled out a cabinet reshuffle, the PM has played down the possibility of it coming in the next week or two.

Sources: Taipei Times, Abc, Guardian, Japan Today, and Al Jazeera.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Mainichi. Yet again, one of PM Kishida's cabinet appointments has had to step down after facing accusations of financial and political misconduct, only this time, minister Akiba had faced public accusations dating all the way back to last year. Kishida has repeatedly allowed his corrupt cabinet members to remain in their positions despite public scandals, so it's about time that the nation's leader considers taking smarter and swifter action going forward.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Al Arabiya. Despite these unforeseen public relations roadblocks, PM Kishida has retained his focus on providing what the Japanese people need, which is more defense spending while trying to ease the financial pains brought about by inflation. As Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's growing regional presence spook the nation, Kishida is working toward tackling each of these issues cautiously.