Last week was another stinker for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and his Liberal Democratic Party. Although prosecutors decided not to indict his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, as expected, he still had to apologize Friday in the Diet for his previous false statements on funding for dinner parties for supporters.

The scandal has tainted the legacy of Abe’s administration, corroded his credibility and cast a shadow over his successor, writes Satoshi Sugiyama. In the Diet, he faced down calls from the opposition for his resignation, and for his secretaries at the time to be charged with embezzlement.

The same day, Tokyo prosecutors raided the offices of former farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa, who served under the Abe government, over allegations that he received a total of ¥5 million from an egg production company in western Japan while in office.

Japan's ex-PM Shinzo Abe apologises over cherry blossom scandal | WION
Japan’s ex-PM Shinzo Abe apologises over cherry blossom scandal | WION

In another blow for Abe, an inquest panel said Thursday it has concluded that former top Tokyo prosecutor Hiromu Kurokawa, once a favorite of Abe, should be indicted for gambling with reporters while Japan was under a state of emergency due to the pandemic. The decision forces prosecutors to reinvestigate the case after they earlier chose not to indict Kurokawa.

And that’s not all: In the wake of heavy criticism of Suga for taking part in two dinner gatherings in Tokyo against his own government’s coronavirus guidelines, Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi, 70, a Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, has admitted attending a drinking party Friday with about 30 people in Toyama. Miyakoshi had to be taken to a hospital by ambulance after falling down at the bash.

The weekend also saw a grim reminder of why the guidelines restricting mass gatherings are in place, as former transport minister Yuichiro Hata, 53, died while being transported to a hospital in Tokyo on Sunday. Although the cause of his death was not immediately known, he had had a fever for a few days and was planning to take a coronavirus test.