Japan's PM Kishida faces corruption allegations

Japan is experiencing a "once in a generation" political crisis as the government attempts to restore its reputation following a corruption scandal according to sources. 

In the past fortnight, four cabinet ministers affiliated with the long-standing ruling party have tendered their resignations, amidst the efforts of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to maintain power. His current approval rating of 17% is the lowest it has been in over a decade.

Public resentment and wrath have also spread online. This could be a tipping point for governance improvements. Others argue that the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has ruled Japan almost constantly since 1955, is being targeted.

Analysis suggests that voters in the leading Asian democracy are jaded and disillusioned due to its long history of scandals.

Media reports have accused LDP MPs of misappropriating fundraiser surplus monies in recent months.

The powerful Abe group, named for former prime minister Shinzo Abe, has been accused. The group hid at least 500 million yen (£2.7 million; $3.5 million), with some media sites estimating 1 billion.

The Nakai and Abe factions' offices were raided by prosecutors this week. Five of the six LDP factions, including the prime minister's, are under investigation for ticket fund underreporting.

Japanese legislators often host ticketed parties to raise money. However, many LDP parliamentarians are accused of hiding extra sales by pocketing "kickbacks" or depositing the money in a slush fund.

University of Shizuoka management and informatics professor Seijiro Takeshita says the slush fund funds political network maintenance and expansion. This is common in Japanese politics.

Four top politicians, including Mr. Kishida's chief Cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, resigned as public fury over the funding claims grew.

Regarded as Mr. Kishida's right-hand man, Mr. Matsuno oversaw government-wide policy coordination and was one of the most recognisable government figures. Mr. Kishida defended him days before his resignation when the opposition attempted to pass a motion of no confidence in the cabinet.

Mr. Kishida was compelled to replace him and the following ministers of the Abe faction—Internal Affairs Minister Junji Suzuki, Agriculture Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura, and Deputy Defence Minister Hiroyuki Miyazawa—as the pressure increased.

Although the Prime Minister does not belong to either of the two major factions under investigation, prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they were also scrutinising his organisation.

Competing factions regarded Mr. Kishida as a reliable ally and elected him leader of the party in October 2021, succeeding the retiring Prime Minister Abe.

His son's use of a PM residence for a house party and his party's ties to a controversial church are just two of the numerous scandals that have plagued his presidency.

A significant portion of the populace, according to him, is still reeling from the Democratic Party of Japan's 2009-2012 term in power, which was marked by the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown and was widely regarded as economically catastrophic for Japan.

The party also had difficulty cooperating with the government bureaucracy, according to analysts. One contributing factor to the apathy exhibited by voters in the aftermath of each LDP corruption scandal is the absence of a viable alternative.

In light of this, analysts such as Professor Takeshita are pessimistic that this will significantly reshape Japanese politics or signal the end of the LDP's dominance.