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Third Japanese cabinet minister resigns in a month in blow to PM

By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s internal affairs minister resigned on Sunday amid a funding scandal, becoming the third cabinet member in less than a month to leave under dire circumstances It was a blow to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s already shaky support.

Kishida’s approval ratings fell after former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was assassinated in July, suggesting that ruling Liberal Democratic Party politicians have deep and long-standing ties to the Unification Church, which critics say The church is a cult.

Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Terada Minoru submitted his resignation to Kishida after media reports that the prime minister was preparing to fire Kishida. Kishida’s office could not be reached for comment on the reports.

Terada, who has come under fire for several funding scandals, admitted that one of his support groups submitted funding documents ostensibly signed by the deceased.

Kishida said he had accepted Terada’s resignation in order to prioritize parliamentary debates, including discussions on the second supplementary budget for the fiscal year that ends in March.

Asked about the fact that three ministers have resigned since October

, Kishida said he wanted to apologize.

“I feel a great responsibility,” he told reporters, adding that he planned to formally name Terada’s successor early on Monday. NHK public television said he might nominate former foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto.

Terada’s departure could further weaken the embattled prime minister, who has been consistently below % in the last few polls, This level may make it difficult for him to carry out his political agenda sustainably.

Kishida is widely expected to enjoy a “golden three years” after leading the Liberal Democratic Party to electoral victory just days after Abe was shot dead on the campaign trail 2025.

Abe’s suspected murderer claimed that his mother was bankrupt because of the Unification Church and accused Abe of promoting the Unification Church. The LDP acknowledges that many lawmakers have ties to the church, but has no organizational ties to the party.

Voters also overwhelmingly disapproved of Kishida’s decision to hold a state funeral for Abe, which happened in late September.

Economic Promotion Minister Daishiro Yamaki resigned in October over his ties to religious groups, and Kishida was taken over due to voters’ perception of his delay and Clumsy handling and firing.

Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi resigned in mid-November after making comments seen as belittling his job responsibilities, notably signing the execution make.

The resignations of Hanashi and Terada could be particularly painful because they are members of the Kishida faction of the LDP.

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