National / Politics

Abe expected to accept industry minister Obuchi's resignation

Kyodo

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe intends to accept the expected resignation of trade and industry minister Yuko Obuchi over the alleged misuse of political funds, a government source said Sunday.

Obuchi has told people close to Abe she plans to resign to take responsibility for irregularities in the financial reports of her support groups, according to a different government source.

She plans to meet with Abe on Monday and submit her letter of resignation, and Abe is expected to accept it, the source said.

“We should not prolong this problem,” a source close to Abe said Sunday.

Obuchi’s resignation will deal a severe blow to Abe, who appointed five women as new Cabinet ministers when he reshuffled his Cabinet on Sept. 3 in his bid to underline aim of promoting the status of women here.

Abe has already started searching for candidates to fill Obuchi’s post.

They are lawmakers who served as Cabinet ministers in the past, and who therefore have less chance of being caught up in any political scandal, sources said.

Obuchi is set to face opposition lawmakers at a meeting Monday of a special committee promoting provincial areas in the Lower House of the Diet.

She is expected to be grilled over the scandal.

Meanwhile, opposition lawmakers are ready to take aim at Justice Minster Midori Matsushima, who has been accused of violating the election campaign law.

Matsushima, one of the five new female ministers, allegedly distributed “uchiwa” paper fans to participants attending summer festivals in her No. 14 constituency in Tokyo.

Handing out goods of a certain value, possibly including items such as fans, to voters is prohibited under Japanese law.

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