posted at 23:50
Author Name: Kyoko Hasegawa
Japan PM Abe loses two female ministers over cash scandals
Industry minister Yuko Obuchi and Midori Matsushima, justice minister, fell on their swords after days of allegations that they had misspent money in what opponents insisted was an attempt to buy votes. Their loss reduces to three the number of women in the cabinet, after Abe's widely-praised move in September to promote a record-tying five to his administration. "I'm the person who appointed the two. As prime minister, I take responsibility for this and deeply apologise for this situation," Abe told reporters, adding he would replace them both within the day. The double resignations are the first significant problem for Abe since he swept to power in December 2012, ending years of fragile governments that swapped prime ministers on an annual basis. "Because of the double resignations, his approval rate is likely to fall and Abe will be under pressure," Iwai said. "I will resign and focus on probing what has been called into question," she told reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Abe. The promotion of five women to the cabinet was seen as part of Abe's bid to boost the role of women in society, a move viewed as vital to help plug the holes in Japan's workforce and make better use of a pool of latent talent. Sadakazu Tanigaki, secretary-general and the number two in Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, earlier said Obuchi's resignation was "Extremely regrettable."

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