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News Justice minister forced to resign over gaffe


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Yesterday, Hanashi Yasuhiro resigned as justice minister after coming under fire over a remark he made about the death penalty. Last Wednesday, Hanashi said he has a "low-profile" position in the Cabinet that only gets him onto the noon TV news programs when he gives his stamp of approval for carrying out a death sentence. He retracted the comment the next day. PM Kishida reversed course and sacked his embattled justice minister, Yasuhiro Hanashi, only hours after denying he had any intention of firing him. Most commentators view the "resignation dominoes" (in October, Minister of Economics Yamagiwa stepped back over his close ties to the Unification Church) as proof of PM Kishida's poor crisis management skills.

Kishida met with reporters in the evening of Nov. 11 and explained that he was appointing Ken Saito, a former agriculture minister, to replace Hanashi. Just before that, Hanashi met with Kishida to hand him his resignation. Hanashi then told reporters he was stepping down. "I used the term 'death sentence' too lightly," Hanashi said. "I caused the public and Justice Ministry officials to hold uncomfortable feelings. I have also caused Diet deliberations to stall." Kishida had just publicly defended Hanashi that morning in an appearance at the Upper House plenary session. He explained to lawmakers that Hanashi would remain in his post since the minister had retracted his remark and apologized for it. But Kishida apparently changed his mind shortly afterward. Even lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party were flabbergasted by the remark made by Hanashi on Nov. 9 at a gathering of LDP lawmakers, and some openly speculated it would cost him his job.

I wonder what he actually said. It doesn't sound like a job-ending gaffe in English. But I'm too lazy to look for a Japanese article about it.

Considering how ministers sacked for lying and undermining national security keep returning as ministers in new governments in the UK, this seems very mild. The guy was being accurate!
He was being accurate and sarcastic, a rare trait in Japan. I guess his sacking has more to do with this:

The approval rating for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet slid to a record low of 37 percent as criticism continued over his handling of Unification Church issues, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed. It was the first time the approval rate has dipped under 40 percent—the ratio in the previous survey taken in October—since Kishida took power in October 2021. According to the nationwide telephone survey conducted on Nov. 12 and 13, the disapproval rate rose to 51 percent from 50 percent in October.

I wish PM Kishida had shown more resolve in cleaning up the Unification Church mess.
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