Fumio Kishida, the prime minister of Japan, struggled on Saturday to move past domestic scandals that have lowered his approval ratings while also emphasizing the necessity of bold leadership in the face of escalating global upheaval.
As part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, Kishida is in Thailand. After learning that one of his support groups had submitted a funding document purportedly signed by a deceased person, the interior minister, Minoru Terada, is under pressure to resign.
“Cabinet members must fulfil their obligations to explain,” Kishida told a news conference in Bangkok when asked about the scandal. He said he would make a decision as prime minister as necessary.
Two recent cabinet resignations have already undermined Kishida’s support.
Minister of Justice Yasuhiro Hanashi stepped down last week after some comments he made came to light including a quip about how “tedious” his job was.
The economic revitalization minister, Daishiro Yamagiwa, resigned in October after he was linked to a religious group that critics say is a cult.
Kishida’s approval rating has stayed flat at 27.7% for a third month, according to a poll by the Jiji news agency in mid-November. The poll showed that 43.5% of respondents did not support the government.
The domestic scandals have threatened to overshadow Kishida’s meetings with U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese leader Xi Jinping, and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol over the past week on the sidelines of meetings of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the G20, and APEC.
The summits with China and South Korea marked the first leadership-level meetings in three years, and have come amid rising tensions on the Korean peninsula, and in the Taiwan Strait, and the East China Sea.
Kishida said the international environment faced upheaval that amounted to the worst crisis the country was facing in the post-war era and bold leadership was needed.
“I believe the only way for the … cabinet to govern stably is by taking these issues head on, without running away,” Kishida said.