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Japan's Abe appoints senior official for Cabinet administrative reform post

Japan's Abe appoints senior official for Cabinet administrative reform post

Embattled Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has appointed a senior official to replace a Cabinet minister who resigned over a political funds scandal.
Cabinet Office Senior Vice-Minister Yoshimi Watanabe told reporters Thursday that he felt "a great weight" on him after Abe appointed him to replace Genichiro Sata as administrative reform minister.
"I was asked to work hard for the public," Watanabe said. "I think that firmly carrying out the reforms will lead to recovering public trust."
Following a ceremony held at the Imperial Palace Thursday afternoon, Watanabe, 54, formally took office, said Yasufumi Fujishima, an official in Watanabe's office.
Abe said he felt it was important to fill the position quickly.
"The government will now work full steam to achieve results," Abe said. Watanabe's appointment will take effect Thursday afternoon.
Sata resigned Wednesday evening after admitting that a support group had engaged in fraudulent accounting. His departure marked the second high-profile government resignation in a week.
The scandal broke earlier this week when local media reported that a support group for Sata told the state it spent 78 million yen (US$656,600; euro499,000) in past office maintenance expenses, even though the office did not exist.
Sata acknowledged Wednesday that some of the group's expenses were actually incurred by other organizations. He had earlier denied any knowledge of fraudulent accounting, saying he was surprised by the allegations.
Sata's resignation is the latest in a series of embarrassments for Abe that have sent his approval ratings plunging since he took office in September. Recent media polls have shown that support for Abe's government has fallen to about 50 percent from almost 70 percent three months ago.
On Thursday, the head the government's tax panel, Masaaki Homma, resigned amid an outcry over his use of a plush government apartment to house his mistress. Homma had been hand-picked by Abe to spearhead a push for tax reform.


Updated : 2020-11-30 12:54 GMT+08:00