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Opposition camp rebukes reshuffle of Japan Cabinet, LDP execs

Lawmakers vote on the revised Penal Code during a plenary session of the House of Councillors on June 13, 2022. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Opposition parties on Wednesday criticized Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's reshuffle of his Cabinet and Liberal Democratic Party executives, accusing him of trying to divert the public's attention from questionable ties between some LDP lawmakers and a religious group known as the Unification Church.

    Seiji Osaka, acting leader of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, said the Cabinet reshuffle is merely procrastinating instead of addressing issues involving the group, which calls itself the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification.

    "Checking ties between just Cabinet members and the former Unification Church does not mean fully addressing the problem," Osaka told Kyodo News, calling the reshuffle "irresponsible."

    The issue of ties between ruling party lawmakers and the church, notorious for drawing enormous amount of donations from followers, came under the spotlight after the man who shot former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to death claimed he holds a grudge against the church and believed the former premier had connections with it.

    Osaka said parliamentary deliberations on whether it is appropriate to hold a state funeral of Abe -- another issue opposition parties also question -- should be a higher priority than the Cabinet reshuffle.

    The Japanese Communist Party was also critical of the reshuffle, with the party's policy commission chair Tomoko Tamura saying, "Personnel changes will not alter the true nature of the Kishida government."

    Fumitake Fujita, secretary general of the Japan Innovation Party, said the opposition party will challenge the Kishida government at the Diet over a series of pressing issues Japan faces, such as responses to a resurgence in coronavirus infections, soaring prices, national security and constitutional amendment.

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