Japan PM appoints ex-health min Goto as next economy minister

TOKYO, Oct 25 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday named former health minister Shigeyuki Goto as the next finance minister after he suddenly resigned amid criticism of his ties to a controversial religious group.

Following weeks of calls by opposition lawmakers to resign, former finance minister Daishiro Yamagiwa on Monday resigned, saying he had “disrupted the government” by taking too long to clarify his links to the Unification Church.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Kishida said he chose Goto based on his “political experience, presentation skills and passion for economic and social change.”

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Goto’s appointment comes as the government faces the urgent task of finalizing an economic stimulus package and additional budget.

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Kishida has promised to introduce an aid package by the end of October to deal with the painful rise in living costs amid a 32-year depreciation of the yen.

A ruling party official on Monday said the package could be worth about 26 trillion yen ($174.56 billion).

Yamagiwa became the first cabinet minister to resign in Kishida’s administration and the biggest political casualty of the moment in the scandal that began with the assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in July.

The suspect in the killing was angry at the Unification Church, saying it had confused his mother, and accused Abe of encouraging it.

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Abe’s death highlighted links between the church, which critics say is akin to a cult, and members of Kishida’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), leading to a sharp fall in his party.

The LDP has admitted that many MPs have a relationship with the church but said there is no union between the organization and the church. Kishida has ordered an investigation into the church as people disagree on the matter.

When asked by a reporter if Goto’s tenure as finance minister could lead to a more stable economy, Mr. Kishida rejected the speculation, saying: “I have faith that he will work on economic reform in the economy. .”

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An economic analyst said Goto’s appointment should also be based on his experience in implementing policies related to the coronavirus as a former health minister in Kishida. The responsibilities of the minister of finance include measures to combat COVID-19, among others.

“Kishida’s management may be concerned about the resurgence of the coronavirus this winter, and this may be one reason for the decision,” said Toru Suehiro, an economist at Daiwa Securities.

($1 = 148.9500 yen)

(This article has been edited to correct the wording in the fourth paragraph)

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Kantaro Komiya reports; Edited by Chang-Ran Kim and Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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