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Japan trade minister resigns over claims she used political funds to buy votes, make-up

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Japan’s high-profile and telegenic industry minister on Monday resigned over claims she misused political funds, including to buy both votes and make-up, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s gender reform drive.

Yuko Obuchi told a press conference carried live on multiple television channels that parliamentary business had been stalled because of questions over her spending.

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“It is not permissible for me as Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry to have economy and energy policies stalled because of my own problems,” she said.

“I will resign and focus on probing what has been called into question,” she reporters after a 30-minute meeting with Abe.

“As a member of the Abe cabinet… I am sorry and offer my sincere apologies for having contributed nothing to economic revival, realisation of a society in which women shine and various other tasks,” she said, before bowing deeply to the sound of hundreds of camera shutters.

She is the first minister to resign since Abe took power in December 2012, and her loss will be a personal blow to the premier, who has repeatedly said he wants to boost the lot of women in Japan.

Obuchi, the daughter of a former prime minister, had been tipped to become the country’s first female prime minister.

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Her elevation was the big news when Abe reshuffled his cabinet in September, giving a politician with little cabinet experience a powerful portfolio that includes oversight of the energy sector.

She was the most prominent of five women brought into the cabinet, a figure that ties the record for the most women in an administration.

But she is now facing claims that, over the five years to 2012, her political funding body spent more than 10 million yen ($95,000) on things unconnected to politics, including cosmetics and accessories at a department store.

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Her political group also invited residents in her electoral district in central Japan on bus tours to see theatre performances in Tokyo at fees below actual cost — a move opposition lawmakers have said amounts to “vote-buying”.


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Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan to give up royal titles — ‘the hardest #Megxit possible’

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Britain's Prince Harry and his wife Meghan will give up their royal titles and public funding as part of a settlement with the Queen to start a new life away from the British monarchy.

The historic announcement from Buckingham Palace on Saturday follows more than a week of intense private talks aimed at managing the fallout of the globetrotting couple's shock resignation from front-line royal duties.

It means Queen Elizabeth II's grandson Harry and his American TV actress wife Meghan will stop using the titles "royal highness" -- the same fate that befell his late mother Princess Diana after her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996.

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GOP senator tells home-state press that impeachment trial must be ‘viewed as fair’: report

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Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to local reporters on Saturday about her role in the upcoming Donald Trump impeachment trial.

Murkowski explained she would likely vote with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on an initial vote on whether to allow witnesses. However, she left the door open to voting for witnesses after House impeachment managers make their opening case.

"I don't know what more we need until I have been given the base case," she said. "We will have that opportunity to say 'yes' or 'no' ... and if we say 'yes,' the floor is open."

Overall, Murkowski said it was important for the trial to been viewed as fair.

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White House press secretary urged to do her job: ‘We don’t pay you to be a Twitter troll’

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White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham was blasted on Saturday over the confusion resulting from her refusal to hold daily press briefings.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy was alarmed that Grisham's assistant, Hogan Gidley, was forcing reporters to refer to his remarks as coming from a "sources close to the President's legal team."

Darcy noted that Trump had repeatedly questioned the veracity of unnamed sources, making it problematic for Gidley to demand to be quoted as such.

https://twitter.com/oliverdarcy/status/1218704788432572422

Grisham responded to the criticism and asked Darcy to "stop with the righteous indignation.

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