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Two Japanese ministers resign amid vote-buying claims

October 20, 2014, 13:44 UTC+3 TOKYO
The resignation of Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi and Justice Minister Midori Matsushima deals a powerful blow to the Abe government that never faced such scandals before
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Yuko Obuchi

Yuko Obuchi

© EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

TOKYO, October 20. /TASS/. In an unprecedented scandal in Japan’s political life, two key ministers resigned on Monday amid accusations of misusing campaign funds.

They are Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi, considered as a likely contender for the post of prime minister, and Justice Minister Midori Matsushima. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has already approved the resignations.

It was established that two political funds supporting Obuchi spent 43 million yen (about $400,000) on theatre events for voters, in which not all spending, seen as a possible attempt at bribery, was recorded.

Another fund, supporting the now former economy minister, spent 3.8 million yen (more than $35,000) to buy goods from businesses run by the minister’s relatives, also regarded as a violation of law and misuse of funds intended for political activity.

Justice Minister Matsushima is accused of distributing hand-held fans bearing her image, triggering fierce attacks from opposition critics alleging that distribution of even cheap gifts among voters is banned by law.

The resignation of two key ministers deals a powerful blow to the Abe government that never faced such scandals before.

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