A close aide of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida was sacked as a minister amid a political funds-related scandal, becoming the third member to leave his Cabinet in less than a month, in a heavy blow to his already fragile government.

With his power base weakening, speculation has been growing that by the end of this year, Kishida, whose approval ratings have been struggling, may carry out a second Cabinet reshuffle since he took office in October 2021 in the hope of propping up public support.

Some pundits have also said Kishida could even dissolve the Lower House for an election in a desperate bid to break the impasse as public support for the opposition bloc has not risen. But his political gambles are unlikely to bear fruit.