(Sankei: January 29, 2016 – p. 2)
Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Akira Amari has resigned from his post, admitting he and his aide accepted money [from a construction firm] as reported by the Shukan Bunshu weekly magazine.
The acceptance of a huge amount of cash from a specific firm is an act of aberration. Amari’s aide is alleged to have received 5 million yen from the construction firm, but only recorded 2 million yen in a financial report and spent the rest. This constitutes a false entry under the Political Fund Control Act.
Amari should charge the aide with embezzlement in the course of business. As he pointed out, this is an “embarrassing fact.” His decision to resign is a natural consequence.
Amari stepped down as a cabinet minister, but he has not fulfilled his obligation to provide an explanation. He has said that “the investigation is still underway.” Whether he acted as an intermediary between a construction firm and a semi-public housing corporation over a road construction project and the allegations over the acceptance of money and excessive wining and dining must come to light.
Amari is the fourth cabinet member to resign since the formation of the second Abe cabinet. That is too many. The government must not forget that the first Abe cabinet fell apart due to a series of scandals involving cabinet ministers.
There are many pressing concerns the government needs to address both at home and abroad. Abe should do his best to manage his administration with a sense of urgency. (Abridged)