Japanese State Finance Minister Kenji Kanda Sacked over Tax Arrears (UPDATE 1)

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kenji Kanda

Tokyo, Nov. 13 (Jiji Press)—Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida effectively sacked State Minister of Finance Kenji Kanda on Monday over his company’s past tax arrears.

The Kishida cabinet endorsed the resignation of Kanda, 60, amid calls from opposition parties for him to step down following the revelation last week of the arrears.

Kanda became the third politically appointed senior government official to quit over scandals since Kishida reshuffled his cabinet in September, dealing a heavy blow to his administration amid low public approval ratings.

The prime minister plans to appoint Ryosei Akazawa, acting chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council, as state finance minister.

According to Kanda’s responses to questions in parliament, a company he heads has repeatedly failed to pay fixed asset tax and its building has been seized by authorities four times in the past.

The government initially took a wait-and-see attitude over whether to sack Kanda, while urging him to fulfill his accountability. But calls for Kanda’s resignation grew even within the LDP given the expected impact on parliamentary deliberations, effectively forcing his departure.

“I want to avoid affecting parliamentary deliberations,” Kanda told reporters at the Finance Ministry the same day.

“It’s important for him to scrutinize the facts by himself and fulfill his accountability as a politician,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno told a press conference, referring to Kanda.

Kenta Izumi, leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, had demanded Kanda’s immediate resignation as state finance minister, while threatening to boycott parliamentary discussions on a supplementary budget bill.

The latest sacking comes after the resignations of Mito Kakizawa, as state minister of justice, and Taro Yamada, as parliamentary vice education minister. The opposition bloc plans to hold the prime minister accountable for his appointments of the three at parliamentary budget committee meetings.