Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi was forced to resign Friday following an outcry over remarks that were widely interpreted as not taking seriously the authority to approve death row inmate executions.

The decision came three weeks after another minister, Daishiro Yamagiwa, stepped down over his ties with the Unification Church.

The move is expected to do further damage to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s political standing. It comes just before he departs for a series of summits in Southeast Asia, and at a time when public opinion polls already show low approval ratings, which could embolden discussions within his own party about his political future.