Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry contravenes election law . . .
Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, Isshu Sugawara, resigned on Friday after the Shukan Bunshun, a weekly magazine, reported that his secretary offered 20,000 Yen (C$240) in condolence money to the bereaved family of a supporter in his Tokyo constituency earlier this month, and that his office has sent flowers to other supporters’ families. These acts are in contravention of the Japanese election law, which prohibits politicians from offering gifts and donations to supporters in their home constituencies.
Resignation comes after important cabinet reshuffle . . .
Sugawara’s resignation comes one and a half months after Prime Minister Abe appointed him in a cabinet reshuffle following his Liberal Democratic Party’s (LDP) landslide victory in the July Upper House elections. The Cabinet reshuffle was aimed at achieving two goals. First, Abe brought in two new ministers, including Sugawara, who are supportive of Abe’s plan to revise Japan’s pacifist constitution, which forbids Japan’s use of military force in international relations. Second, Abe wished to enlist a strong team of young and popular politicians to prepare for LDP party succession as Abe has said he will not run again when his term as LDP party president, and prime minister, expires in 2021.
A threat to Abe’s agenda and implications for Canada . . .
Sugawara’s resignation may undermine Abe’s agenda. Japanese media has speculated that Abe planned to call a snap election in late 2019 that would leave the opposition parties, which reject Abe’s proposed constitutional amendments, with little to time to organize their campaigns. After this scandal broke, however, public confidence in Abe’s government may be shaken. A decade ago, the Japanese media published reports accusing Sugawara, who has close ties with the LDP’s chief cabinet secretary, of giving gifts to supporters, including expensive melons and crabs. Japan is one of Canada’s key economies of focus among members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. Will revolving-door ministers make it more challenging for Canada to stay on Japan’s trade radar?
- Asahi Shimbun: Arrogance, not responsibility, shown after Sugawara quits
- Japan Today: Trade minister resigns after only 1 month over allegations he broke election law
- The Japan Times: With cabinet reshuffle, Abe confirms intent to seek change to the constitution