A fundraising scandal involving the most influential group of the ruling party in Japan led to the resignation of four cabinet officials on Thursday.
Over a five-year period to 2022, more than 500 million yen (£2.8 million; $3.4 million) was believed to have ended up in slush funds.
A day before, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, pledged to deal with the massive accusations of $500 million in bribes within the division-plagued Liberal Democratic Party, which has ruled the third-largest economy in the world for nearly three decades, prosecutors were also planning to start conducting office raids and interviewing numerous legislators.
Ministers of Economy and Industry, Yasutoshi Nishimura, Internal Affairs, Junji Suzuki, and Agriculture, Ichiro Miyashita also tendered their resignations, as verified by Chief Cabinet Secretary, Hirokazu Matsuno.
The prime minister’s special advisor, Michiko Ueno, is also stepping down, along with five other deputy Japanese ministers, chief government spokesman, Matsuno told reporters.
“The public is becoming less trusting of the government as a result of their misgivings about political funding. I felt I wanted to make things right while the investigation was ongoing,” Nishimura told reporters.
Kishida said, “I will lead the LDP and make efforts like a ball of fire to restore the public’s trust.”
Since the LDP came back to power in 2012, the prime minister’s poll numbers have been the lowest of any premier due to voter resentment over inflation and his handling of several previous scandals.
The grouping headed until recently by Kishida himself was also suspected of failing to declare more than 20 million yen in the three years to 2020, the Asahi Shimbun daily reported.