TOKYO — A Japanese vice finance minister stepped down on Monday, amid criticism from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's Cabinet, after admitting his company's repeated failures to pay taxes, a further setback to Kishida's unpopular government.

Deputy Finance Minister Kenji Kanda, in charge of government bonds and monetary policy, is the third member of Kishida's Cabinet to resign within two months following a Cabinet shuffle in September.

Kishida later told reporters that he takes responsibility for the appointment of Kanda. “I must apologize to the people that a vice finance minister had to resign soon after he assumed his position," Kishida said. “I'm determined to concentrate on our work more seriously, as I believe that's the only way to regain the people's trust.”

Kanda, a tax accountant-turned-lawmaker, admitted that land and property belonging to his company was seized by the authorities four times between 2013 and 2022 after failures to pay fixed asset taxes, in response to a weekly magazine article that revealed the case earlier this month.

Opposition lawmakers grilled Kanda over the tax scandal during parliamentary sessions last week, halting discussion of other key policy issues. Kishida was slow to respond and his party initially was also resistant to opposition attacks, but they apparently shifted toward Kanda's resignation because of the widening criticism, Japanese media reported.

Kanda's resignation, which he rendered to his boss, Shunichi Suzuki, was later approved by the Cabinet, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

Kishida is seeking to have a snap election before his current term as head of the governing Liberal Democratic Party expires in September so he can serve another term as Japan's leader, but he has been struggling to figure out a timing that would maximize his chance amid his sagging support ratings.

Despite the reshuffle, support for Kishida’s Cabinet has kept dwindling and recent media surveys showed approval ratings falling below 30%.

Kishida's government has suffered public criticism over slow economic measures to mitigate the impact of rising prices, repeated glitches over the digitalization of a health insurance system, and his indecisive image.

Since the reshuffle in September, Kishida’s Cabinet had lost two other vice ministers in separate scandals. A vice education minister resigned after acknowledging an extramarital affair and a vice justice minister resigned over an alleged violation of election law.

Kenta Izumi, head of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, told reporters that Kanda’s dismissal was only natural but too late. “He should not have become vice finance minister to begin with, and that raises the question over the prime minister’s responsibility over his appointment.”

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland. The conversation continues on newsday.com/nextli where we invite Long Islanders to share their experiences on this looming crisis of changing weather patterns, flooding, shoreline protection, home buyouts and more to find potential solutions for the region’s future.

Paying the Price: Long Island's stormy future Newsday Live and nextLI present a conversation with experts on the impact of powerful storms and rising insurance costs on Long Island hosted by NewsdayTV Anchor/Reporter Macy Egeland.

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