Abe apologises for scandals, opposition seeks deeper probe

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Tokyo, Aug 3 (IANS) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologised on Thursday for the scandals implicating him and some of his close allies with a new cabinet in place, while opposition parties called for a deeper probe into the scams, saying that a cabinet reshuffle won’t erase the misconducts.

“I would like to express deep regret and apologise for creating strong distrust among the public over the scandals,” Abe said at a press conference following the inauguration of his new cabinet.

Abe has been accused of using his influence to facilitate a government approval to the heavily-subsidised opening of a veterinary school at an university run by his friend, Xinhua news agency reported.

To make the situation worse, Abe’s close ally and protege Tomomi Inada stepped down last week as Defence Minister for being involved in covering up information about risks faced by Japanese peacekeeping troops in South Sudan.

Abe apologised for causing public distrust over the scandals and stressed that the new cabinet would put the economy first, saying that there was much to do.

As for his long-time goal of revising the pacifist Constitution, Abe said that he wants to deepen the discussion on the subject inside his party and among the people, but the debate “is not dependent on any schedule”.

He also said nothing has been decided on whether to dissolve the Lower House before its members’ terms expire in December 2018.

Abe reshuffled his cabinet earlier in the day in a bid to restore public faith in a scandal-mired government, the fourth such attempt since he retook office in 2012.

Opposition lawmakers, however, slammed the reshuffle as an attempt to cover up the scandals and called for a deeper probe into the issues.

Renho Murata, the outgoing leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, pointed out that the cabinet reshuffle wouldn’t make the scandals just disappear.

Seiji Mataichi, Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party, said that Abe should be held accountable for appointing problematic ministers.

Ichiro Matsui, head of Nippon Ishin no Kai party, said that the “skeleton” of the cabinet is not changed and the reshuffle will cause little impact.

–IANS

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