Japan’s Abe apologizes as defense minister quits for sending his ratings down

July 28, 2017 - 12:13 PM
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaks to the media at his official residence in Tokyo. (Reuters)

TOKYO — Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday apologized to the nation over the resignation of Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, saying he bore full responsibility for appointing her to the post.

Speaking to reporters, Abe said Foreign Minister Fumiko Kishida would take additional charge of the defense portfolio.

Earlier, Inada, an Abe protégé, said she was resigning after a series of gaffes, missteps and a cover-up at her ministry, that have contributed to a sharp plunge in public support for Abe.

Abe hopes to repair his ratings, which have sunk below 30 percent in some polls, hit by scandals over suspected cronyism and the view of many voters that he was taking them for granted.

But Inada’s resignation comes too late, critics said.

It coincides with the release of a report on an investigation into whether defense ministry officials tried to hide logs showing worsening security in South Sudan, where Japanese troops participated in a controversial U.S.-led peacekeeping operation.