Japanese ministers quit over kickbacks scandal

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Four Japanese ministers tendered their resignations on Thursday as unpopular Prime Minister Fumio Kishida reels from a major corruption scandal in the ruling party.

The cabinet crisis comes after allegations of kickbacks of 500 million yen ($3.4 million) in the faction-riven Liberal Democratic Party, which has governed the world’s third-largest economy almost uninterrupted for decades.

Media reports suggested that prosecutors were about to begin raiding offices and interviewing dozens of lawmakers later this week.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno confirmed that he was stepping down and that Economy and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, Internal Affairs Minister Junji Suzuki and Agriculture Minister Ichiro Miyashita had also tendered their resignations.

Michiko Ueno, a special advisor to the prime minister, is also leaving office as well as five deputy ministers, Matsuno, who is also chief government spokesman, told reporters.

“The public’s doubts are around me over political funds, which is leading to distrust in the government. As an investigation is going on, I thought I wanted to set things right,” Nishimura told reporters.

Kishida said a day before that he would deal with the allegations “head-on”.

“I will make efforts like a ball of fire and lead the LDP to restore the public’s trust,” he told reporters.

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