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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.

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

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.

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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.

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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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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‘Disconnected from reality’: NY Times editor ridicules Trump for being a ‘farce’ of a president

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New York Times editorial board member, Michelle Cottle, released a scathing op-ed highlighting the president's tendency to give oxygen to his adversaries that no one else would be paying attention to otherwise.

In a piece relating the White House to a "three-ring" circus, Cottle called the president a "farce" for his new war with Anthony Scaramucci.

As the president tweeted, no one had heard of Scaramucci until Trump hired him and former chief-of-staff John Kelly fired him after only 11 days.

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Ex-white nationalist issues horrifying warning Trump’s government is neglecting the ‘domestic extremism problem’

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Former white supremacist Christian Picciolini noted in an interview with MSNBC Sunday that the United States is dealing with a severe domestic terrorism problem, but that the Donald Trump administration is asleep at the wheel.

Since the El Paso shooting, there have been more than 30 thwarted mass shootings and at least two of those were directly related to domestic terrorism. Luckily state and local police were able to step in, and Americans have been more likely to warn law enforcement about possible attacks.

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Trump goes off on Twitter rant about ‘My Stock Market’ at nearly 2 a.m. in France

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President Donald Trump has an early morning meeting Monday with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. He also has a full day of meeting with the G-7, but that wasn't his focus in the early morning hours.

"My Stock Market gains must be judged from the day after the Election (sic), November 9, 2016, where the Market went up big after the win, and because of the win. Had my opponent won, CRASH!" Trump tweeted Sunday night in the U.S., which was nearly 2 a.m. in France where the president is staying during the G-7 summit.

My Stock Market gains must be judged from the day after the Election, November 9, 2016, where the Market went up big after the win, and because of the win. Had my opponent won, CRASH!

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