Ja­pan’s de­fense min­is­ter to re­sign over scan­dal

Global Times US Edition - - WORLD -

Ja­pan’s de­fence min­is­ter To­momi Inada will re­sign over an al­leged coverup in­volv­ing mil­i­tary doc­u­ments, lo­cal me­dia re­ported on Thurs­day, po­ten­tially deal­ing a fresh po­lit­i­cal blow to Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe.

Pub­lic broad­caster NHK re­ported that Inada, 58, will sub­mit her res­ig­na­tion to Abe as early as Fri­day be­fore a cabi­net reshuf­fle ex­pected next week.

Inada, a close con­fi­dante of Abe who shares his staunchly na­tion­al­ist views, was ap­pointed as de­fense min­is­ter in Au­gust 2016, a time when she was touted as a pos­si­ble fu­ture prime min­is­ter.

But her nearly year-long stint has been char­ac­ter­ized by con­tro­versy, in­clud­ing in­creas­ing crit­i­cism over an al­leged min­istry coverup of log re­ports filed by Ja­panese peace­keep­ers in South Su­dan show­ing wors­en­ing se­cu­rity.

The troops, part of a UN mis­sion, re­turned to Ja­pan in May af­ter five years.

Inada has staunchly de­nied any coverup, though she will re­port­edly re­sign to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the is­sue, with re­sults of an in­ter­nal min­istry in­ves­ti­ga­tion ex­pected on Fri­day

Abe, who vowed to re­ju­ve­nate Ja­pan’s econ­omy when he took of­fice in 2012, has seen his pop­u­lar­ity plum­met in re­cent weeks due to scan­dals and com­ments by mem­bers of his rul­ing Lib­eral Demo­cratic Party (LDP), in­clud­ing Inada.

Days be­fore an elec­tion for the Tokyo mu­nic­i­pal assem­bly ear­lier this month, Inada called on vot­ers to sup­port the LDP in the name of her min­istry and the mil­i­tary.

The com­ments drew wide­spread con­dem­na­tion, forc­ing Inada to re­tract her re­marks, which were seen as a key rea­son for her party’s un­prece­dented bad drub­bing in the poll.

Dur­ing her ten­ure, Inada de­lighted con­ser­va­tives but drew do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism in De­cem­ber when she prayed at a con­tro­ver­sial war shrine in Tokyo – the day af­ter ac­com­pa­ny­ing Abe on a sym­bolic visit of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion to Pearl Har­bor in the US.

Re­ports of Inada’s in­ten­tion to quit came hours af­ter the head of Ja­pan’s main op­po­si­tion party an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion, less than a year af­ter be­com­ing the first woman to lead the group.

The brief spell of Renho, who goes by a sin­gle name, was dogged by con­tro­versy over hav­ing held dual na­tion­al­ity and she was also un­able to cap­i­tal­ize on Abe’s falling pop­u­lar­ity.

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