Tokyo, Dec. 14 (Jiji Press)–Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday that he will not host an annual cherry blossom-viewing party after it came under fire for a scandal involving former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“There is a great deal to be regretted, and we should never cause those issues again,” Kishida said at the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of parliament. “My cabinet has no plan to hold” such a party, he said.
Abe is under scrutiny over dubious funding for dinner parties held for his supporters in connection with the cherry blossom-viewing event.
On the government’s plan to provide 100,000 yen in benefits to every child aged 18 and younger, Kishida admitted that the rollout of program could have been better handled.
“We need to humbly acknowledge that there were some points needed to be worked out. But this is the result of our best efforts, from the perspective of providing support as quickly and effectively as possible,” he said.
The comments come after the government decided to allow payments in a cash lump sum without conditions, instead of its initial plan that called for providing part of the benefits in the form of vouchers.
Asked about the issue of lawmakers fully receiving 1-million-yen monthly allowances even if they serve for only one day of a month, Kishida said that it is natural that the public questions the practice.
The prime minister said that he wants to find a way to utilize leftover face masks that the government planned to distribute early in the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 82.72 million such masks are held in storage.
Kishida reiterated that he will retain State Environment Minister Toshitaka Ooka in his current post following the receipt of government pandemic subsidies by a political group he heads.
On a proposed summit meeting between Japan and the United States, Kishida said that he aims to build a relationship of trust with U.S. President Joe Biden to create a world without nuclear weapons.