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Reports: Japan PM to fire reconstruction minister as cabinet turnover continues

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will be replacing embattled reconstruction minister Akiba Kenya, according to local news reports. Akiba will be the fourth cabinet member to leave Kishida's administration since October. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida will be replacing embattled reconstruction minister Akiba Kenya, according to local news reports. Akiba will be the fourth cabinet member to leave Kishida's administration since October. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Japanese Prime Minster Fumio Kishida will replace reconstruction minister Kenya Akiba, multiple reports indicated Monday, marking the fourth departure from his cabinet since October.

Kishida's latest move, confirmed by government sources to Kyodo News and national broadcaster NHK, came as his government faces low poll numbers and is seeking to pass a budget during next month's meeting of the National Diet, Japan's legislature.

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Funding irregularities under Akiba were raised during the extraordinary Diet session that ended earlier this month, while political groups linked to Akiba paid $104,000 in rent to his wife and mother.

The minister also reportedly paid $1,500 to his state-employed secretaries for assistance in his 2021 reelection campaign for the lower house of Japan's legislature, which would be illegal under Japanese election law.

The departure, which is expected on Tuesday, will be just the latest from Kishida's cabinet.

Economic revitalization minister Daishiro Yamagiwa resigned in October over links to the Unification Church. Kishida has asked the education ministry to investigate the church for possible violations of Japan's Religious Cooperation Law via its fundraising practices.

Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi resigned in November after making comments about the death penalty that were considered inappropriate.

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Also, a member of Kishinda's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Kentaro Sonoura, quit the House of Representatives last week after being accused of underreporting money obtained via fundraising parties.

A survey conducted for Kyodo News this month found Kishida's government has a 33.1% approval rating.

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