TOKYO ( Associated Press) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida fired his fourth minister in two months Tuesday in an effort to repair a scandal-tainted cabinet that has raised doubts over his judgment on staff credentials.
Kenya Akiba, the minister in charge of rebuilding Fukushima and other disaster-hit areas, has faced allegations of misuse of political and election funds and questionable ties to the Unification Church, whose soft political ties and practices surrounding huge donations from its followers has generated controversy. ,
“I made a difficult decision and submitted my resignation,” Akiba told reporters after meeting Kishida. He reiterated that he has never broken any law in relation to the issues for which he has been criticized.
Kishida appointed former Reconstruction Minister Hiromichi Watanabe as his replacement. Watanabe’s appointment is expected to be made official after a ceremony at the palace.
Akiba’s dismissal was seen by many as an attempt by Kishida to eliminate a weak point in the government, an upcoming parliamentary debate on a significant budget bill including massive defense spending aimed at strengthening Japan’s invasion capabilities. could stop the work.
Jun Azumi, a senior lawmaker from Japan’s main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party, said on Monday that “four (layoffs) are too many and the prime minister should be held accountable for his appointments.”
Kishida also replaced Home Minister Mio Sugita on Tuesday, who made derogatory remarks against sexual and ethnic minorities. Sugita said in 2018 that same-sex couples are childless and “unproductive” and mocked them as “middle-aged women in costumes” in traditional ethnic dress at a 2016 UN committee meeting.
Kishida said that Sugita submitted his resignation by insisting that he could not change his personal beliefs by retracting some of his statements.