The unusual resignation of two ministers in one day — less than two months after both were appointed to their posts in September's Cabinet reshuffle — reflects the effort by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's administration to contain the political damage caused by the separate spending scandals involving the women.

But the exit of Yuko Obuchi as trade and industry minister and Midori Matsushima as justice minister does not relieve them of their duty as lawmakers to account for their questionable actions, which could violate the Public Offices Election Law. Both Obuchi and Matsushima still need to give convincing explanations about the alleged irregularities.

Obuchi, a popular lawmaker often touted as a future prime minister hopeful, and Matsushima were among the five female lawmakers given Cabinet posts by Abe, who has set an agenda of promoting women to key positions in government and businesses. Their exit marked a setback for the Abe administration, which saw its popular approval ratings plummet in media polls over the weekend as the scandals involving the two ministers unfolded.