Tokyo: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came under continued fire on Tuesday from the opposition camp over allegations his son used taxpayers’ money for sightseeing trips oversees while on official duty.
Kishida’s son, Shotaro, 32, who serves as his secretary, was alleged by the Shukan Shincho magazine to have visited tourist hot-spots in Paris, London and Ottawa at the taxpayers’ expense and used a government-owned vehicle, while the prime minister was carrying out official duties overseas in January, Xinhua News Agency reported.
The allegations have dealt a further blow to the already slumping approval rating for Kishida’s cabinet, following a number of high-profile ministerial resignations over funding scandals, gaffes and links to a shady religious organisation.
The approval rating has also taken a major hit from the Kishida administration’s contentious and publicly denounced plan to raise taxes to fund an unprecedented increase in the country’s defence spending.
According to local media polls in December, the prior controversies led to the approval rating dropping to around the 30 percent-mark, the lowest level since Kishida launched his cabinet in October 2021 and a level below which has historically been a harbinger of the end of a prime minister’s tenure.
The Japanese leader initially caught flak in October when he hand-picked Shotaro, the eldest of his three sons, to serve as his executive secretary, sparking fervent accusations of nepotism from the opposition bloc as well as the public.
The latest headache for Kishida follows his week-long trip to Britain, Canada, France, Italy and the United States, ahead of the Group of Seven summit in May to be held in Hiroshima Prefecture, Kishida’s constituency.
At a parliamentary committee session Tuesday, Kishida, under a grilling from the opposition, refused to definitively comment on his son’s actions.