Kishida says he will take action in party’s illicit funds scandal

Tokyo, Dec 11 (EFE).- Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, faced with an illicit financing scandal in his party allegedly involving senior cabinet officials, said Monday that he would adopt “the appropriate response” regarding the replacement of charges.

“I see that doubts are spreading about politics and possible fraud and I take it with a feeling of crisis,” he saidMonday in statements to journalists after arriving at his office.

It came as Kishida was asked about rumors about whether he would be considering replacing a significant part of his government, including his right-hand man and government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno for his alleged involvement in the irregularities.

Prosecutors are currently investigating allegations made against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, although no formal charges have been filed at this time.

“While we study the situation and in order to regain the people’s trust in politics and not hinder government efforts, I will take the appropriate response at the appropriate time, but for now I cannot say more,” said Kishida, who didn’t mention possible replacements.

Kishida would also plan to replace other positions such as Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, and several vice ministers and high profiles within the government and the party.

It is believed that the prime minister would be waiting for the closure of the extraordinary parliamentary session in progress Wednesday to undertake a reform.

The scandal came to light after the filing of a criminal complaint against several factions of the party alleging that various members of the party had not correctly declared million-dollar income from fundraising events for training held at least between 2018 and 2022.

Matsuno, considered the most important figure in the current Executive after Kishida and seen as one of his potential successors, has served as chief spokesperson and chief secretary of the Kishida cabinet since he took office in October 2021.

“I plan to fulfill my responsibility and abide by what the prime minister decides,” Matsuno said Monday when asked about his imminent replacement and the accusations against him.

The government spokesman also said he would take “appropriate measures” on an individual level, without specifying details.

Other important figures in the PLD who would have been linked to the case are the party’s head of political strategy, Koichi Hagiuda; the general secretary of the party in the Upper House, Hiroshige Seko; or former Olympic Games Minister Seiko Hashimoto.

The case led Kishida last week to make the decision to abandon the leadership of his faction to distance himself from suspicions but a move that could make it difficult for him to continue as leader.

The term of the current Japanese prime minister, who has had low popular approval figures for months, expires in October 2025, but in 2024 he will have to face other internal primaries. EFE


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