The bureau also said there was a 50% chance each for El Nino to continue in the spring of Kishida.
Tokyo, December 11 – In the midst of a crisis, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida pledged on Monday to restore confidence in his government. He announced plans to remove ministers involved in financial scandals, dealing a new blow to his dwindling public support.
The allegation that some lawmakers received unreported sums of thousands of dollars poses one of the biggest challenges in decades for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has held power almost continuously in post-war Japanese history.
Kishida does not need to call elections until October 2025, and he is currently grappling with a fractured and weakened opposition dominated by the LDP. However, time is running out for the Prime Minister, and analysts suggest that even after cabinet approval, he will have to struggle to revitalize his fate.
Michael Kusak, a professor specializing in Japanese politics at Temple University in Tokyo, said, ‘He (Kishida) is in the cycle of death, and the outcome is inevitable.’
People are united. Whether you lean left or right, are idealistic or pragmatic, they despise it. It’s a scandal that is pulling people’s attention towards it, showing that it’s a serious problem for the LDP going forward.”
Political analyst and former LDP official Atsuo Ito said it’s unlikely that Kishida can escape the scandal, but there is a possibility of him staying in office until the LDP leadership election in September 2024, bypassing any sudden election.
Tokyo prosecutors are focusing their investigation around the largest and most powerful faction within the LDP known as the Seiwa-kai, led by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and often referred to as the Abe faction.
According to media reports, they are accused of concealing political funds worth millions of yen over five years, where some lawmakers received ‘bribes’ from the sale of tickets for party events, kept away from the books.
Late on Sunday, it was reported that Kishida decided to shuffle four ministers and 11 other ministerial positions in his cabinet. The reshuffle could take place at the beginning of the week.
The Chief Cabinet Secretary Matsuno, a powerful figure coordinating policies for Kishida’s government, along with the Minister of Economy Yasutoshi Nishimura, Internal Affairs Minister Junji Suzuki, and Agriculture Minister Ichiro Miyashita, are among those slated to be replaced. This includes deputy and parliamentary secretaries, as reported by Asahi.
Matsuno, who briefs daily as the government’s top spokesperson, has consistently denied answering questions about the investigation.
Nishimura apologized on Monday for the distrust that arose in politics due to this incident and stated that he would fully cooperate with any investigation.
Suzuki has previously denied any involvement, while Miyashita has claimed ignorance of any bribes.
According to Yomiuri newspaper reports, Japan’s main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party is preparing to bring a vote of no confidence against Kishida’s cabinet on Tuesday.
A party official stated that a decision on such a proposal has not been finalized. Although the likelihood of it passing is low, any signs of rebellion within the ruling party will be closely monitored.
On Monday, the CDP also filed a separate no-confidence motion against Matsuno.
Kishida, who took office in October 2021, has seen a decline in approval ratings for his cabinet in recent months, primarily due to concerns about rising costs and funding his ambitious defense plans, impacting voter sentiments.
According to a Fuji News Network-Sankei survey conducted over the weekend, the popularity of his administration dropped by 5.3 percentage points from the previous month, reaching a record low of 22.5%.
Approximately 46% of respondents in the survey said they want Kishida to stay in power within the LDP until the end of his term in September, while around 41% wish for an immediate change
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