The son of the Japanese prime minister resigns after public outrage at the party

TOKYO >>Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said on Monday that his son will resign as his executive policy secretary to take responsibility for using the prime minister’s residence for a private party at which the hilarity was revealed in magazine photos that sparked public outrage.

Shotaro Kishida, his father’s executive secretary for political affairs and eldest son, invited a group of people including relatives to attend a year-end party on December 30 at the prime minister’s official residence.

Photos published by the weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine show Kishida’s son and his relatives standing on red-carpeted stairways in imitation of group photos taken for the newly appointed coffers, with his son in the center – the position reserved for the prime minister. Other photos showed guests standing on a stage as if they were giving a press conference.

“As Secretary for Political Affairs (to the prime minister), a public position, his actions were inappropriate and I decided to replace him to take responsibility,” Kishida told reporters Monday night. He said his son will be replaced by another secretary, Takayoshi Yamamoto, on Thursday.

Kishida admitted that he entertained guests for a while but said he did not stay at the dinner party.

He said he had severely rebuked his son for the party, but that had failed to quell the persistent criticism from opposition MPs and public anger which had led to his approval ratings plummeting.

Kishida appointed his son as Secretary for Policy, one of eight secretarial posts to the Prime Minister, in October. The appointment, seen as a step in grooming him for an heir, has been criticized as nepotism, a common occurrence in Japanese politics, long dominated by hereditary legislators. His son was formerly his father’s private secretary.

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This was not the first time that Kishida’s son had been criticized for abusing his official position for private activities. He was reprimanded for using embassy cars for private sightseeing in Britain and Paris and for buying souvenirs for Cabinet members at a luxury department store in London when he accompanied his father on his travels.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno had earlier described the son’s party at the official residence as “inappropriate” and promised to ensure proper management of the facility to prevent future misuse.

The nearly 100-year-old building was formerly the prime minister’s office and became a living space in 2005 when a new office was built.

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