Business leaders voiced concern Monday about political stability after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s new trade and justice ministers stepped down within hours of each other over separate scandals.
The resignations of Yuko Obuchi and Midori Matsushima come at a bad time for Abe, who has been trumpeting a newfound interest in creating more opportunities to advance women in society.
“The impact will be significant because the scandal involved the female minister who had drawn the most attention” in Abe’s new Cabinet launched in September, an executive at a major trading house said, referring to Obuchi, who helmed the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
The turmoil will also complicate Abe’s effort to get a handle on difficult economic issues, including decelerating growth, a decision on a fresh consumption tax hike, and negotiations on sealing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with the United States.
“Any confusion in national politics is significantly negative at a time when (the administration) must clearly explain Japan’s position internationally over issues such as the TPP,” an executive of a large carmaker said.
A senior official at a leading steel maker showed understanding about Obuchi’s resignation but added that the administration must ensure the scandal won’t delay discussions on whether to restart the nation’s idled nuclear reactors.
“It is an urgent task (for Abe) to stabilize the government’s footing,” an executive at a major electronics maker said, but a senior official at a large retail chain hoped that Obuchi will “take responsibility properly and make a comeback.”
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