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Japanese Prime Minister forces son to resign after private party at official residence

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says he decided to replace his son "to have him take responsibility". (Kyodo News via AP)

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says he has forced his son to resign as his executive policy secretary after his son used the prime minister's residence for a private party, prompting public outrage.

Photos published by the weekly Shukan Bunshun news magazine showed Mr Kishida's son, Shotaro, and other relatives posing on the residence's red-carpeted stairs, imitating the group photos of newly appointed cabinets, at a year-end party on December 30.

Shotaro Kishida was standing in the centre — the position normally reserved for the prime minister.

Other photos showed guests lying on the stairs and standing at the residence's podiums as if holding a news conference.

Shotaro, his father's executive secretary for political affairs and eldest son, will be replaced with another secretary, Takayoshi Yamamoto, on Thursday.

"As secretary for [the prime minister's] political affairs, a public position, his actions were inappropriate and I decided to replace him, to have him take responsibility," Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Monday night.

The prime minister acknowledged he had briefly greeted the guests to his son's party but he said he did not stay for the event.

He said he had since severely reprimanded his son for the party, but that failed to quell ongoing criticism from opposition politicians and significant public outrage, which has pushed down his polling ratings.

Shotaro Kishida, son of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, will resign as his father's executive policy secretary. (Kyodo News via AP)

Mr Kishida appointed his son as policy secretary, one of eight secretary posts for the prime minister, in October. The appointment, seen as a step in grooming him as his heir, was criticised in the media as nepotism — something that is common in Japanese politics, which has long been dominated by hereditary politicians.

His son was previously Mr Kishida's private secretary.

The party scandal is not the first time Shotaro Kishida has come under fire for making use of his official position for private activities.

He has previously been reprimanded for using embassy cars for private sightseeing in Britain and Paris, and for buying souvenirs for cabinet members at a luxury department store in London when he accompanied his father on trips.

Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno earlier called the party at the official residence "inappropriate", and promised to ensure proper management of the facility to prevent future misuse.

The nearly 100-year-old building was previously the prime minister's office. It became the living quarters in 2005 when a new office was built.


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