Abe to shuf­fle Cab­i­net amid se­ries of scan­dals

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

TOKYO — Ja­pan’s Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe will shake up his Cab­i­net this week, the gov­ern­ment’s top spokesman said on Tues­day, as pub­lic sup­port plum­mets after a se­ries of scan­dals.

Abe him­self has faced claims he used in­flu­ence to help a friend in a busi­ness deal, an ac­cu­sa­tion he de­nies, while the coun­try’s de­fense min­is­ter re­signed last week fol­low­ing a con­tro­versy over mil­i­tary doc­u­ments.

Abe told min­is­ters he was plan­ning a reshuf­fle on Thurs­day to “push ahead with var­i­ous re­forms un­der a new lineup”, Chief Cab­i­net Sec­re­tary Yoshi­hide Suga said.

Suga said the new Cab­i­net’s top pri­or­ity would be re­viv­ing the econ­omy, adding it would also work to en­sure na­tional se­cu­rity.

Staunch na­tion­al­ist Abe be­came prime min­is­ter for a sec­ond time in December 2012 with a vow to re­ju­ve­nate the world’s third-largest econ­omy.

Pub­lic sup­port rat­ings for Abe’s Cab­i­net have fallen pre­cip­i­tously over the summer, with vot­ers pun­ish­ing his Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party in lo­cal Tokyo elec­tions a month ago.

Abe had been ex­pected to get rid of To­momi Inada, a close con­fi­dante but deeply un­pop­u­lar as de­fense min­is­ter, in the widely ex­pected reshuf­fle.

But she re­signed on Fri­day over a long-brew­ing scan­dal in­volv­ing the han­dling of mil­i­tary re­ports, along with the chief of staff of the Ground Self-De­fense Force and the top rank­ing civil ser­vant in the min­istry.

Ja­panese lead­ers of­ten make Cab­i­net changes to re­boot their for­tunes when times get tough, though po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts are scep­ti­cal over whether the up­com­ing shuf­fle will drag Abe out of the po­lit­i­cal dol­drums.

Suga de­clined to com­ment on who will be in the new Cab­i­net, though news re­ports have said Fi­nance Min­is­ter Taro Aso, who also serves as deputy prime min­is­ter, and some other min­is­ters will stay.

Mean­while, prose­cu­tors in the western city of Osaka on Mon­day ar­rested Ya­sunori Kagoike, for­mer chief of ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tion Morit­omo Gakuen, with ties to Abe’s wife Akie, on sus­pi­cion of il­le­gally re­ceiv­ing sub­si­dies, me­dia said, re­viv­ing a months-old scan­dal.

Kagoike and his wife Junko were ar­rested for fraud­u­lently re­ceiv­ing state sub­si­dies to build an ele­men­tary school, Ky­odo News agency said.

Prose­cu­tors have been in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pair over al­le­ga­tions they de­frauded the gov­ern­ment and re­ceived il­licit pub­lic sub­si­dies to con­struct an ele­men­tary school.

Suga said the new Cab­i­net’s top pri­or­ity would be re­viv­ing the econ­omy, adding it would also work to en­sure na­tional se­cu­rity.

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