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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Japan PM Kishida to quit as ruling party faction leader

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 Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will step down as chief of his faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) amid a growing slush funds scandal, local media reported on Thursday.

Kishida, also president of the LDP, is set to announce his resignation as the leader of Kochikai, the party’s fourth-largest faction, later during the day, according to national news agency Kyodo, citing sources close to the matter.

Kochikai is among the five LDP factions that allegedly underreported their revenue from political fundraising parties, from which the extra income may have been returned to some of their lawmakers as kickbacks.

Seiwaken, or the Seiwa policy study group, the largest LDP faction previously led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was suspected of having pooled secret funds amounting to around 100 million yen (about 679,000 U.S. dollars) over at least the past five years through 2022.

At least 10 LDP lawmakers in the Abe faction received kickbacks, the latest media reports showed.

Although many prime ministers keep their distance from their faction while in office, Kishida has remained active as the leader of his faction since taking office in October 2021.

The decision to quit followed Kishida’s request on Wednesday that all LDP factions should refrain from holding fundraising parties for the time being, and as the Japan Times put it, the prime minister is “in damage control mode.”

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