Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is refraining from holding business dinners after being criticized for partying with his colleagues while the deadly rain disaster in western Japan was getting under way earlier this month.
Photos of the party on the night of July 5, including one showing a smiling Abe surrounded by dozens of members of his conservative Liberal Democratic Party, were posted on Twitter, triggering a public backlash. The downpours through the following few days triggered deadly floods and hundreds of landslides that claimed the lives of more than 200 people.
Abe had held dinner meetings almost every night until the drinking party in question, but has since held only one after meeting with members of the Regulatory Reform Promotion Council on July 6. That was a dinner with visiting European Union leaders, on July 17.
However, dining with other people is an integral part of his campaign to win another term as LDP president in September, which would make him the nation’s longest-serving prime minister. So now Abe is making full use of lunch opportunities instead, people close to him said.
Abe invited members of the prefectural assemblies of Kumamoto and Aichi for lunch at his office on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, to hear their requests for state measures to revitalize their economies.