Japan Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi Leaves Ruling Party Faction

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi speaks in October.

Tokyo (Jiji Press)—Japanese Justice Minister Ryuji Koizumi on Wednesday left a ruling party faction at the center of a political funds scandal.

The departure came a day after public prosecutors raided the office of the Liberal Democratic Party faction led by former LDP Secretary-General Toshihiro Nikai on suspicion of violating the political funds control law.

Parliamentary Vice Justice Minister Hideyuki Nakano also quit the faction.

Koizumi refused to resign as justice minister, telling reporters, “I’ll continue to fulfill my duties.”

The Nikai faction allegedly failed to report some fundraising party revenues in its political funds statements.

Parliamentary affairs chiefs from six major opposition parties on Wednesday met and agreed that they will demand Prime Minister Fumio Kishida dismiss Koizumi as justice minister.

The prime minister has indicated that he intends to retain Koizumi and regional revitalization minister Hanako Jimi, who is also a member of the Nikai faction, in their current ministerial posts.

Kishida last week replaced four cabinet members and five state ministers that are members of another LDP faction once led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The Abe faction is also currently under investigation by prosecutors over similar allegations.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi brushed aside concerns that if Koizumi remains as justice minister, the ongoing investigation into the political funding scandal may be affected.

“I understand that prosecutors are handling the matter appropriately based on law and evidence, under the spirit of impartiality, fairness and political neutrality,” Hayashi said at a press conference.