In the end, the pressure was too great: Japan’s Justice Minister Yasuhiro Hanashi had to vacate his post. It is the second resignation of a minister in a short period of time.
New low blow for Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: After massive criticism of controversial statements on the role of the Minister of Justice in the execution of the death penalty, Kishida parted ways with his Minister of Justice Yasuhiro Hanashi.
It is the second resignation of a cabinet minister in a short period of time. Two days earlier, Hanashi had lamented to party colleagues: “I have an undemanding job where I only get to the top of the midday news if I put my stamp on a morning warrant.” The job does not help to collect much money or votes. This was widely seen in Japan as a disparagement of the Attorney General’s role in authorizing executions of death row inmates.
Ex-Agriculture Minister Ken Saito to be new Attorney General
Because of the dismissal of his justice minister, Kishida had to postpone his scheduled departure for the Asean summit in Cambodia this weekend until Saturday night. According to media reports, former Minister of Agriculture Ken Saito is to become the new Minister of Justice. The appointment comes as a further blow to Kishida, whose polls have plummeted following massive criticism of numerous politicians in his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP)’s ties to the Mun sect, also known as the Unification Church, founded by the late Korean San Myung Mun. Because of his close ties to the sect, Kishida only had to dismiss Economic Revitalization Minister Daishiro Yamagiwa in October.
Japan, the third largest economy in the world, is one of the few developed countries that retains the death penalty. Human rights activists have long denounced the handling of executions and prison conditions in Japan. Foreign governments also criticize the fact that the death row inmates are not informed of the time of their execution as particularly cruel. Those sentenced to death often live in solitary confinement for years. When the Minister of Justice’s execution warrant finally arrives, most of them only have a few hours to live.