Japan: Two ministers quit government within hours amid political scandals

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Japan: Two ministers quit government within hours amid political scandals

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A second female minister has resigned from Japan’s government amid a political scandal, dealing a further blow to Shinzo Abe’s conservative administration.

Justice Minister Midori Matsushima stood down over claims she had violated election laws.

Hours earlier, Trade Minister Yuko Obuchi, 40, the daughter of a prime minister and tipped as a future contender to become Japan’s first female premier, said she was standing down after allegations that her support groups misused political funds.

As head of the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, she had been tasked with selling Abe’s unpopular plan to restart nuclear reactors to a wary public worried about safety after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

“A standstill on economic and energy policy-making due to my problems is unacceptable,” she told reporters in Tokyo. “I resign my post as Minister to devote my full efforts to the investigation into the suspicions raised.”

Both women were among five females appointed by Abe in a cabinet reshuffle less than two months ago – a move intended to show a commitment to promoting women as part of efforts to revive the economy.

Accepting responsibility for their appointments, the premier has apologised to the nation.

Analysts say any further resignations could raise doubts about his own future.

Abe’s first stint as prime minister in 2006-2007 was marred by scandals among his ministers – several quit and one committed suicide. Abe himself resigned after just one year in the face of parliamentary deadlock, sliding support rates and ill health.