PM plans to dismiss internal affairs minister for political funds scandals

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida holds a news conference after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit meeting in Bangkok on Saturday.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida plans to dismiss Internal Affairs and Communications Minister Minoru Terada, following revelations of a series of inappropriate and erroneous entries in political funds reports, according to sources.

Kishida is believed to have concluded that replacing Terada is inevitable, as there are growing calls from within the Liberal Democratic Party for swift action to avoid any impact on deliberations over the second supplementary budget for the current fiscal year. He plans to hold some consultations over how to handle the political funds scandals as early as Sunday.

It has come to light that Terada’s political funds reports for his support group indicated that a deceased person was the treasurer of the support group for about three years, among other things.

Opposition parties are calling for his resignation, saying that he is unqualified to be a Cabinet minister responsible for the Political Funds Control Law.

In the middle of this month, suspicions also emerged that Terada illegally paid local lawmakers and others in the House of Representatives election last year.

“As prime minister, I will make a decision on [Terada’s removal] at an appropriate time, as part of efforts to challenge [the Cabinet’s] issues one by one,” Kishida said at a press conference in Bangkok on Saturday.

Deliberations on the second supplemental budget will start at the plenary session of the House of Representatives on Monday.

The government has given top priority to passing a supplementary budget that will provide financial resources for economic measures.

“Mr. Terada has yet to explain the allegations,” an LDP senior lawmaker said Saturday.

When asked at a press conference whether he would allow Terada to continue in his post, Kishida said, “I want to concentrate the entire power of my administration on each of the issues toward the end of the year.

“Meanwhile, each Cabinet minister must thoroughly fulfill his or her accountability. I would like to make a decision from these two perspectives,” Kishida added.

Terada attended an LDP-related meeting Saturday in his constituency of Kure, Hiroshima Prefecture. “I understand your concern, but I will handle the issue properly,” an attendee of the meeting quoted Terada as saying.

The prime minister returned to Japan late Saturday night after wrapping up his Southeast Asian tour.