Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Monday that he will fire his eldest son Shotaro from his role as executive secretary on Thursday, amid growing criticism over inappropriate photographs taken at the premier’s official residence during a family function last year.
In the run-up to the closure of the ongoing parliamentary session on June 21, Kishida decided to sack his son in an attempt to minimize damage to his administration as key bills are still under deliberation, ruling lawmakers said.
Kishida told reporters that he decided to fire his son as the three-day Group of Seven summit in his home constituency of Hiroshima had concluded on May 21 and post-event coordination with the relevant local entities had been wrapped up.
“Of course, the responsibility for the appointment lies with me. I take it seriously,” Kishida said, adding, “I want to fulfill my duties by addressing challenges that cannot be postponed and moving forward with determination.”
Shotaro Kishida has been a repeated source of trouble for the prime minister since he was tapped for the executive secretary role in October.
Earlier this month, a weekly magazine reported he had posed for photographs with relatives on a staircase and in other symbolically important parts of the residence in a manner seen as disrespectful, prompting the government to say the actions “lacked appropriateness.”
Kenta Izumi, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters Monday, “The appointment itself had a strong element of intermingling public and private interests. Resignation is only natural.”
Nobuyuki Baba, chief of the opposition Japan Innovation Party, told Kyodo News that Kishida’s son “should have acted with awareness of his position.”
In January, Shotaro Kishida came under fire for inappropriately mixing public and private interests by going sightseeing while accompanying his father on visits to other G-7 advanced countries ahead of the Hiroshima summit.
News of the incident initially came from another weekly magazine. As part of what Kishida later called “official duties,” his son was reported to have used a government car to visit major tourist spots and go shopping in London, Paris and Ottawa.
The government said there was no problem with his use of the vehicle because he took photos for his father’s social media and purchased gifts on behalf of the prime minister.
Opposition parties have long called for the dismissal of Shotaro Kishida, who began working as a secretary of his father in March 2020 after leaving Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co., while the premier had previously issued a stern warning to his son.
Kishida was lambasted by opposition politicians for nepotism over the appointment, but rejected the accusations, saying he offered the job to his son based on his “personality and insight.”