Japanese PM to step down as head of LDP faction amid slush funds scandal

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Tokyo, Dec 07, 2023, IANS

Amid a growing slush funds scandal, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida looks set to step down as chief of his faction in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) , local media reported on Thursday.

As per Kyodo news, Kishida, also president of the LDP, is set to announce his resignation as the leader of Kochikai, the party's fourth-largest faction, later during the day, Xinhua news agency reported.

Kochikai is among the five LDP factions that allegedly understated their revenue from political fundraising parties, from which the extra income may have been returned to some of their lawmakers as kickbacks.

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Seiwaken, or the Seiwa policy study group, the largest LDP faction previously led by the late former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was suspected of having pooled secret funds amounting to around 100 million yen (about 679,000 U.S. dollars) over at least the past five years through 2022.

At least 10 LDP lawmakers in the Abe faction received kickbacks, the latest media reports showed.

Although many prime ministers keep their distance from their faction while in office, Kishida has remained active as the leader of his faction since taking office in October 2021.

The decision to quit followed Kishida's request on Wednesday that all LDP factions should refrain from holding fundraising parties for the time being, and as the Japan Times put it, the prime minister is "in damage control mode."

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