【News】 TPP chief negotiator Amari resigns over money scandal (Jan. 29, 2016)

Economic revitalization minister Akira Amari stepped down from the Cabinet post on Jan. 28, after acknowledging his receipt of 1 million yen in cash from a construction company. The scandal was reported by one of the weekly magazines published in Japan last week.

Amari had also been a minister in charge of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade talks since 2013 when Japan joined the TPP. He led a negotiation team of Japan at a ministerial meeting held in Atlanta last October to reach a broad agreement on the TPP. The TPP chief negotiator’s departure from the Cabinet will inevitably make an adverse impact on deliberations at the Diet which is scheduled to ratify the TPP free trade agreement this spring.

Amari had been a key proponent of the economic policies advocated by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, so-called Abenomics, since Abe’s administration started in 2012. His alleged scandal will unavoidably deliver a serious blow to the administration. Opposition parties plan to pursue Abe’s responsibility for his appointment of the economic revitalization minister. If the Diet is thrown into confusion over the national budget bill for the fiscal year 2016, its approvals of the budget bill and TPP ratification could be delayed.

The Prime Minister appointed former environment minister Nobuteru Ishihara as the successor of Akira Amari in the evening of the same day.

(Jan. 29, 2016)

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