Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has postponed his departure for three upcoming Southeast Asian summits to dismiss and replace his justice minister who has been widely criticized for his impromptu remark on approving the death penalty.
Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi told reporters Friday that he had submitted his resignation to Kishida, two days after he commented at a party meeting that his low-profile job only made noon news when he used the “hanko” stamp to approve the death penalty in the morning.
The remark quickly drew criticism from the opposition as well as within the ruling Kishida Party, which is already mired in controversy over its decades-long ties to the Unification Church, a South Korean-based religious group accused in Japan of improper recruitment and persuasion of its followers. Make huge financial donations.
At least two other members of the scandal-prone Kishida government face allegations of accounting irregularities.
“I used the term death penalty as an example carelessly,” Hanachi said, which made people and ministry officials “feel uneasy.”
“I decided to resign to express my apologies to the people and my determination to resume my political career.”
Hanachi said he had consulted with Kishida over the past two days about his possible resignation and was advised to do his best to apologize and explain his insensitive comments.
“I apologize and retract my remark that faced media reports that created the impression that I take my responsibility very seriously,” he said Thursday.
He made another apology earlier on Friday and denied any intention to resign. But media reports later revealed that he had made similar statements in other meetings over the past three months.
Japan faced international criticism for its continued use of the death penalty.
Kishida, who was notoriously hesitant, denied that he underestimated Hanashi’s remarks. He later told reporters that he accepted Hanachi’s resignation because his “careless remark” had damaged the public’s confidence in the justice system.
Kishida said he has appointed former Agriculture Secretary Ken Saito, a Harvard-educated former Commerce Department bureaucrat, to replace Hanshi.
The scandal forced Kishida to postpone his departure on a nine-day trip to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Cambodia, G20 meetings on the Indonesian island of Bali, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). ) Forum in Bangkok.
Hanachi, a member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Kishida faction, has been in office for only three months and is the second minister to be sacked since the prime minister changed his cabinet in August in a failed attempt to reverse his government’s declining popularity.
Last month, Daichiro Yamagiwa resigned as Economy Minister after facing criticism for failing to explain his links to the Unification Church.
The ruling party’s links to the Unification Church emerged after the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July. Ties to the church go back to Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, who supported the religious group’s anti-communist stance and helped it take root in Japan.
A police investigation into Abe’s assassination also highlighted problems affecting family members of church followers, including poverty and neglect. Investigators said Tetsuya Yamagami, accused of shooting Abe dead on July 8, initially wanted to kill the leader of the Unification Church, which he blamed for his family’s financial ruin.
Yamagami’s mother is said to be a religious follower donated About 100 million yen ($720,461) went to the church and bankrupted his family.
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