Japanese minister resigns over execution remark, PM delays trip

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida decided to delay his Friday departure to Southeast Asia to attend three upcoming summits, reportedly to fire his justice minister over a remark he made. made on capital punishment which has been criticized as inappropriate.

Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi was due to tender his resignation in Kishida on Friday, two days after he made a comment at a party meeting that his low-key work only makes the midday news when he uses his tampon “hanko” to approve executions in the morning.

The remark quickly drew criticism from the opposition and even within Kishida’s ruling party and could further undermine his government, which is already mired in a controversy over its decades-long ties to the Church of India. ‘Unification, a South Korea-based religious cult accused in Japan of problematic recruitment and brainwashing adherents into making huge donations.

Hanashi, a member of Kishida’s own party faction, had only been in office for three months and will be the second minister to be removed from office since the prime minister reshuffled his cabinet in August in a failed attempt to overthrow the plummeting popularity of his government.

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

Hanashi has been criticized for appearing to take executions lightly, at a time when Japan is already facing international criticism for retaining capital punishment.

He apologized and recanted during parliamentary sessions.

“I apologize and withdraw my remark which faced the media that it gave the impression that I was taking my responsibility lightly,” he said on Thursday.

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

Kishida was apparently forced to urgently sort out the issue with his cabinet before leaving for a nine-day trip to attend the ASEAN summit, as well as the Group of 20 meeting in Indonesia and the cooperation forum Asia-Pacific economy in Bangkok.

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