Japan’s justice minister resigns over death penalty comments | Death Penalty News

Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida delayed his trip for three upcoming summits in Southeast Asia to fire and replace his justice minister, who was widely criticized for his outspoken remarks about approving standard death penalty.

Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi told reporters on Friday that he had submitted his resignation to Kishida, two days after he told a party meeting that his low-level work was covered only at the meeting. noon when he used his “hanko” seal for approval. death sentence in the morning.

The comment quickly sparked criticism from the opposition as well as internally Kishida’s ruling partyalready mired in controversy over it decades-long relationship with the Unification Churcha religious group based in Korea that is accused in Japan of inappropriate recruiting and persuading followers to make huge financial donations.

At least two other members of Kishida’s scandal-prone cabinet are also facing allegations of accounting irregularities.

“I carelessly used the term death penalty as an example,” which made residents and ministry officials “feel uncomfortable,” Hanashi said.

“I have decided to resign to express my apologies to the people and resolve to restart my political career.”

Hanashi said he had consulted with Kishida in the past two days about the possibility of his resignation and was advised to do his best to apologize and explain his insensitive comments.

“I apologize and retract my comment in the face of media reports that have created the impression that I am disregarding my responsibilities,” he said on Thursday.

He issued another apology earlier on Friday and denied any intention of resigning. But media reports later revealed he had made similar remarks at other meetings over the past three months.

Japan has face international criticism for continuing to use the death penalty.

Kishida, who is known for being indecisive, denied that he took Hanashi’s remarks lightly. He later told reporters that he accepted Hanashi’s resignation because his “careless remarks” damaged public confidence in the justice system.

Kishida said he has appointed former Agriculture Secretary Ken Saito, a former Commerce Department official who trained at Harvard, as Hanashi’s replacement.

The scandal forced Kishida to delay the trip nine days to attend Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in CambodiaThe Group of 20 meets in the Indonesian island of Bali and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum in Bangkok.

Hanashi, a member of Kishida’s faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, has only been in office for three months and is the second minister to be sacked since the prime minister shuffled the cabinet in August in a failed bid. failed to turn around dwindling government support.

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

The ruling party’s affiliations with the Unification Church emerged after the assassination of July by former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The relationship with the church dates back to Abe’s grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi, who supported the religious group’s anti-communist stance and helped it take root in Japan.

A police investigation into Abe’s assassination also sheds light on issues affecting family members of church followers, including poverty and abandonment. Investigators say that Tetsuya Yamagami, who accused of shooting and killing Abe on July 8, initially wanted to kill the leader of the Unification Church, whom he blamed for his family’s financial ruin.

Yamagami’s mother, a devout believer, reported donate about 100 million yen ($720,461) to the church and bankrupt his family.

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