Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Fumio Kishi on Friday.
Prime Minister of Japan Fumio Kishida He delayed travel to three upcoming summits in Southeast Asia and fired and replaced the justice minister, who was widely criticized for his outspoken comments on endorsing the death penalty.
Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi told reporters on Friday that he had submitted his resignation to Kishida, two days after he commented at a party meeting that he used the afternoon news of his low-profile case only to approve the “hanko” stamp. death sentences in the morning.
This word quickly caused criticism both internally and in the opposition Kishida’s ruling partywhich is already mired in controversy over it A decades-long relationship with the Union ChurchA religious group based in South Korea has been accused of improper recruitment and persuading followers to make large financial donations in Japan.
At least two other members of Kishida’s scandal-prone cabinet have also faced allegations of accounting irregularities.
“I carelessly used the term death penalty as an example,” which made people and ministry officials “feel uneasy,” Hanashi said.
“I have decided to resign to express my apology to the people and my determination to restart my political career.”
Hanashi said he consulted with Kishida over the past two days about his possible resignation and advised him to do his best to apologize and explain his insensitive comments.
“I apologize and retract my statement in the face of media reports that gave the impression that I took responsibility lightly,” he said.
He apologized earlier on Friday and denied any intention to resign. But media reports later revealed that he had made similar remarks at other meetings over the past three months.
There is Japan faced international criticism for continuing to impose the death penalty.
Known to be indecisive, Kishida denied taking Hanashi’s comments lightly. He later told reporters that he had accepted Hanashi’s resignation because his “reckless statement” had damaged public confidence in the justice system.
Kishida said he had appointed former agriculture minister Ken Saito, a Harvard-educated former trade ministry bureaucrat, to replace Hanashi.
The scandal forced Kishi to postpone a nine-day trip to participate Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in CambodiaGroup of 20 meetings in Bali, Indonesia, and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Bangkok.
Hanashi, a member of Kishida’s own faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has been in office for just three months and is the second minister to be sacked since the prime minister shuffled his cabinet in August in a failed attempt to turn around his increasingly unpopular government.
Last month, Daishiro Yamagiwa resigned as economy minister after being criticized for failing to explain his ties to the Unification Church.
The ruling party’s relations with the Unification Church appeared after the July assassination former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The church’s ties go back to Abe’s grandfather, former prime minister Nobusuke Kishi, who supported the religious group’s anti-communist stance and helped it take root in Japan.
The police investigation into Abe’s murder also sheds light on problems affecting family members of church followers, including poverty and neglect. The investigators told Tetsuya Yamagami He is accused of fatally shooting Abe On July 8, he first tried to kill the leader of the Union Church, whom he blamed for the financial ruin of his family.
Yamagami’s mother was said to be a devout follower he forgave added ¥100 million ($720,461) to the church and bankrupted his family.
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