Monday Jan 30, 2023
Monday Jan 30, 2023

Japan minister quits over execution remark, PM delays trip


Nepalnews
AP
2022 Nov 11, 15:18, TOKYO
Japanese Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi speaks during a press conference at his ministry in Tokyo, on Oct. 14, 2022. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has decided to delay his departure Friday to southeast Asia to attend triple summits, apparently to sack his justice minister over his remark that his job makes news only when he signs executions.(Photo: AP)

 Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delayed his departure Friday to Southeast Asia’s three upcoming summits in order to sack and find a replacement for his justice minister over a remark he made about capital punishment that was criticized as inappropriate.

Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi told reporters he submitted his resignation Friday to Kishida, two days after he made a comment at a party meeting that his low-profile job makes lunchtime news only when he uses his “hanko” stamp to approve executions in the morning.

The remark quickly sparked criticisms from the opposition and even within Kishida’s governing party and could further shake his government, which is already mired in a controversy over its decades-long ties with the Unification Church, a South Korea-based religious sect accused in Japan of problematic recruitment and brainwashing adherents into making huge donations.

Hanashi, a member of Kishida’s own party faction, was in office only three months and will be the second minister to be dismissed since the prime minister shuffled his Cabinet in August in a failed attempt to turn around his government’s plunging popularity.

Last month, Daishiro Yamagiwa resigned as economy minister after facing criticism for failing to explain to his links to the Unification Church.

Hanashi was slammed for giving the impression that he takes executions lightly, at a time Japan already faces international criticism for maintaining capital punishment.

He apologized Thursday during parliament sessions.

“I apologize and retract my remark that faced media reports that it made an impression that I was taking my responsibility lightly,” he said.

But media reports later revealed he had made similar remarks at other meetings over the past three months.

He repeated his apology and explanation earlier Friday but had not mentioned his intention to resign.

Kishida apparently was forced to urgently deal with the problem with his Cabinet before leaving on a nine-day trip to attend the ASEAN summit, as well as Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia and Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Bangkok.

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