The resignation of farm minister Takehiko Endo, only a week after taking office, over the illegal receipt of state subsidies by a farmers’ association that he heads is perplexing and disturbing. He is the fifth Cabinet minister Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has lost since coming to power in September 2006 and the third farm minister to be replaced in the middle of his term in just three months. The first committed suicide and the second was fired over political funds reporting scandals. As Mr. Endo resigned, Vice Foreign Minister Yukiko Sakamoto resigned over irregularities in political funds reporting.

In an effort to recover from his Liberal Democratic Party’s devastating defeat in the July 29 Upper House election, Mr. Abe reshuffled his scandal-tainted Cabinet on Aug. 27. Although he spent about a month strictly checking the background of candidates for Cabinet posts, he and his subordinates could not detect Mr. Endo’s problem. This is a crushing blow to Mr. Abe’s attempt to regain people’s trust in his Cabinet. The farm ministry will also face difficulty in working out effective measures to strengthen Japan’s agriculture.

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