Four months into his term as prime minister, Yoshihide Suga is facing a mountain of problems and dismal approval ratings. From controversial new legislation aimed at taming the coronavirus to the fate of the Tokyo Olympics to scandals within his party, Suga’s leadership ability and style is coming under increased scrutiny and criticism, reports Eric Johnston.
The last thing the PM needs right now is a fresh scandal, but the universe has given him one involving his eldest son, Seigo Suga. Shukan Bunshun magazine reports that four top communications ministry officials were wined and dined by Seigo, who works for a firm that was granted a satellite TV license by said ministry.
PM Suga says he has instructed his son to cooperate with a probe into whether the dinners violated the National Public Service Ethics Law.
That law prohibits national government employees from attending dinner meetings paid for by interested parties. The same law is the focus of another scandal involving the farm ministry. The furor deepened last month with the revelation that the ministry’s top bureaucrat attended a dinner with a former egg company chief who has been indicted on bribery charges.
Then there’s the Kawais. On Wednesday, Anri Kawai, who was found guilty last month of vote-buying in the 2019 Upper House election, submitted her resignation as a ruling party lawmaker. Her husband Katsuyuki, a former justice minister and a Lower House member, is also standing trial over the affair.
Anri’s exit opens up her Hiroshima seat for a by-election on April 25. The same day, a Lower House by-election will be held in Hokkaido following the resignation of former farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa, who was charged over the egg bribery scandal — and another Upper House by-election is due in Nagano, sparked by the COVID-19 death of former land minister Yuichiro Hata. Pop that date in your diary.