Japan Trade Minister To Resign Over Spending Political Donations On Theater Tickets

It has only been just over a month since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed Trade Minister Yuko Obuchi, but she has already planned to resign over reports that her political funding group spent some 26 million yen on theater tickets for supporters.

Reuters reported that the scandal was revealed at a committee meeting held in the upper house of parliament where Obuchi was questioned about the issue.

According to the Japan Times, Yuko Obuchi’s political funds report failed to mention revenue and spending related to theater showings for her supporters in 2012

Yosuke Kondo, a member of the House of Representatives from the Democratic Party of Japan, the major opposition force, broached the issue during Friday’s meeting of the chamber’s Economy, Trade, and Industry Committee.

Obuchi admitted failing to report the money in question and said she was ready to investigate the matter quickly.

Two groups related to the young minister have been arranging theater viewings for Obuchi supporters. They have been attending performances at the Meijiza theater, a venue for kabuki and Western plays, in Tokyo since 2007.

Yuko Obuchi, who is the daughter of former prime minister Keizo Obuchi, has also been accused of facilitating spending of over 3 million yen in a boutique run by her brother-in-law and a design office run by her sister.

The Mainichi, a major newspaper in Japan, in its editorial, strongly criticized Obuchi and called on her to explain why the funds were being used to fund things unrelated to her political work. The editorial noted that, “her explanation has given the public the impression that she failed to draw a clear line between public and private affairs.”

The editorial was scathing in its criticism of Obuchi.

“Over 10 million yen from Obuchi’s political funds was used over the five years from 2008 either in an inappropriate manner or without transparency. This suggests sloppy management…The government’s policy of promoting renewable energy, which Obuchi’s ministry is responsible for, is feared to reach an impasse. She should be aware of her responsibility as the minister in charge that these problems could hold up policy implementation.”

The inquisitr has reported that Japan’s push to increase the use of renewable energy, nuclear energy in particular, has been met with much resistance because of fears that another Fukushima disaster may happen.

Obuchi was given the tough task of trying to gain public trust for the government’s unpopular policy of restarting nuclear reactors.

[Image from Japan Times]