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HOME  > Past issues  > 2023 December 13 - 19  > Koike: To draw curtain on slush fund scandal with removal of 4 Cabinet members is unacceptable
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2023 December 13 - 19 TOP3 [POLITICS]

Koike: To draw curtain on slush fund scandal with removal of 4 Cabinet members is unacceptable

December 15, 2023

Amid the off-the-book fund scandal mainly involving the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s largest faction, known as the Abe faction, Prime Minister Kishida Fumio on December 14 replaced four scandal-hit Cabinet members, including the spokesperson.

The four members are Matsuno Hirokazu (Chief Cabinet Secretary), Nishimura Yasutoshi (Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister), Suzuki Junji (Internal Affairs Minister), and Miyashita Ichiro (Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister). They all belong to the Abe faction. In addition, five junior ministers and one parliamentary secretary, who are members of the Abe faction, were dismissed.

In the three months since the inauguration of the 2nd reshuffled Kishida Cabinet, a total of 13 ministers, junior ministers, and parliamentary secretaries were ousted due to scandals. Among them were two senior vice ministers who resigned over repeated tax delinquency and electoral irregularities, respectively.

Kishida appointed former Foreign Minister Hayashi Yoshimasa, who is a member of the Kishida-led faction, to the post of Chief Cabinet Secretary. The prime minister chose former Justice Minister Saito Ken as the new Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, former Internal Affairs Minister Matsumoto Takeaki as the new Internal Affairs Minister, and former State Minister for Regional Revitalization Sakamoto Tetsushi as the new Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister.

Kishida presumably intends to draw a curtain on the slush fund scandal by removing Abe faction members from his Cabinet and government posts. However, four other major LDP factions, including the Kishida faction, are also suspected of underreporting income from fundraising parties to create slush funds. The five major LDP factions have become a subject of investigations by the special investigation squad of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office.

Japanese Communist Party Secretariat Head Koike Akira at a press conference said that it is unacceptable for PM Kishida to evade his accountability to the public just with the dismissal of the four Cabinet members.

Koike noted that former State Minister of Defense Miyazawa Hiroyuki, one of the five dismissed junior ministers, admitted that the Abe faction as its policy has used a tactic of underreporting revenues from fundraising parties to generate off-the-book funds
and that he was ordered by the faction to keep silent on the scandal.

Koike stressed the need to uncover the whole truth behind the scandal and added that the JCP will work hard to organize a national movement seeking to put an end to the LDP politics which prioritizes the party’s own interests over protecting people’s livelihoods.

Past related article:
> JCP demands summoning of Abe faction’s politicians as sworn witnesses to testify before Diet over off-the-book money scandal [December 12, 2023]
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