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Former farm minister Takamori Yoshikawa said Monday he will step down as a lawmaker after allegedly receiving a total of ¥5 million from an egg production company in western Japan. Yoshikawa, who served as a Cabinet minister under Suga’s predecessor, Shinzo Abe, said through his office that he has been hospitalized and cited health reasons for his resignation.

The exit of Yoshikawa, a Lower House member from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, will come as a blow to Suga’s government, whose support ratings have been plunging over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It also comes as opposition parties are demanding Abe appear in the Diet to address allegations that his camp illegally used political funds to pay for dinner parties. Sources earlier appeared to suggest the LDP might comply, but Hiroshi Moriyama, parliamentary affairs chief of the LDP, said Sunday that “The issue is not suitable at all for sworn testimony. I also wonder if it is fair for him to speak at the budget committees,” referring to Abe.

Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters at the Diet on Dec. 4 regarding allegations that his office illegally used political funds to pay for dinner parties. | KYODO
Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to reporters at the Diet on Dec. 4 regarding allegations that his office illegally used political funds to pay for dinner parties. | KYODO

Meanwhile, the president of the International Science Council has urged Suga to provide a reasonable explanation for his recent unprecedented decision to reject the appointment of six scholars to the Science Council of Japan.

“It is important that academies and other merit-based scientific bodies be free to determine their membership and their office-bearers, be free from political or other outside interference in determining their strategies and the scope of their scientific activities,” said Daya Reddy.

It’s been a roller-coaster year for Japanese politics, what with the pandemic and a change of PM, and that ride looks set to continue into 2021, writes Michael MacArthur Bosack. Suga’s power atop the government is not assured, and with some significant elections scheduled, domestic politics could once again shake things up at the top. Bosack — a listicle man through and through — previews five key events and issues to watch out for in the coming political year. Buckle up.

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